Do's and don'ts for breaking in a glove

Do's and don'ts for breaking in a glove

The Internet is full of advice on the best way to break in a baseball glove. Some of the advice is good, some of it not so good.

In the not-so-good category: petroleum jelly, olive oil, mink oil and linseed oil. Even worse might be what Noah Liberman, author of "Glove Affairs: The Romance, History, and Tradition of the Baseball Glove," calls a crackpot idea: putting your glove in a microwave or oven.

Fran Fleet, owner of a glove repair shop in Cotati, Calif., agrees. She says on her Web site, "I've re-laced many gloves in my shop that have had bacon-crisp laces as a result of being oiled and put in the oven. This is how food is cooked -- not how to treat leather designed and manufactured to function as a tool!"

To break in a glove, experts like Liberman and Fleet say oils like neat's-foot, lanolin or "Glove Loogie" work best to soften and moisturize leather.

Some of the finer gloves on the market today come off the store shelf ready to use. Called "trunk-slammers," these gloves need no breaking in, which had been an integral part of shaping a baseball glove since the early days of the sport.

Would a real baseball fan push aside this time-honored tradition for convenience? Well ...

But if you are "old school" and own a leather glove [no synthetics, please!] that needs broken in, this suggestion from Tonto Genovese's Web site "Breaking In Your Glove," might prove helpful, unless you own a high-end model:

1. Fill up your sink or a bucket and submerge the glove in room temperature water for approximately 3-5 minutes.
2. Put a baseball deep in the pocket and try to stretch the glove around a baseball forming a pocket.
3. Tie up the glove tightly, forming the pocket around the ball using a belt or string fingers facing up, to help the water drain.
4. Keep tied up and let the glove dry naturally out in the sun or in the attic a couple days or in any warm part of the house. Do not place on any HOT surface.
5. Untie and throw the glove in the clothes dryer [even if it's still wet] on hot for 15-20 minutes. This will help "beat up the leather."
6. Remove the glove from the dryer and start working it in. The more time you spend bending down on the fingers and forming the pocket, the better the end result. Once completely broken in, I prefer an occasional application of inexpensive shaving cream [just the white foam kind with lanolin and no fragrance] when a glove gets a little dry.

Having tried Genovese's method or someone else's, you know your glove is broken in, Liberman says in his book, when "... you're going for a tough backhand and the ball hits your glove at the very base of the palm and sticks."

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.