By Andrew Mata
Infielder Troy Baird gets up and heads to the refrigerator every day before practice. But he is not going there to grab a drink or snack. He’s reaching for his baseball glove.
“I’ll put it in the refrigerator overnight, and take it out in the morning before practice,” Baird said. The chilly temperatures help keep his glove in perfect form for the season.
Baseball players break-in and maintain their gloves in different ways. Some use unconventional methods, like beating their gloves with a hammer.
After the wear and tear of practice, baseball gloves tend to lose their shape and become malleable. When that happens to Baird’s he oils the glove and places it in the refrigerator, which allows the leather to stiffen back up.
“I have a hammer and I’ll beat the leather in to try and build the biggest pocket I possibly can. Basically you’re tenderizing it,” pitcher Lawrence Stewart said.
Some players stick a few baseballs in the pocket, some wrap them with rubber bands, then sleep on them for a few weeks. First baseman Rafael Ceja puts another glove inside his, and puts it under his bed.
Some methods take a few days, others the entire duration of the season, but for ball players there is nothing more personal than their fielding glove.
“I’ll sit in front of a machine that throws me 20 balls each round, and I’ll probably do five rounds each day for about a week and its good to go,” catcher Samuel Lemmon said.
Catchers tend to have the hardest gloves to break-in because of the thickness of the leather needed for taking a daily pounding from pitchers.
“I’m catching between three to four hundred balls everyday, and it’s going to last me about a year,” Lemmon said.