Baseball players can be quite particular to their gloves, and you’ll notice that many develop a strong loyalty to specific brands that they are comfortable with. It can be hard to change one’s mind to get them to try a different brand of baseball glove once they have found something that they like.
So what are the most common brands of baseball gloves that pros stand by? Which brand is best of all? More importantly, how can you find a good brand that is right for you?
What Makes A Good Baseball Glove?
At the end of the day, leather is one of the most important determinants of a good baseball glove. There can be many different types of leather coming from different animals, but you will definitely want to find something that is 100% real leather and not synthetic. You get what you pay for though, as leather gloves are more expensive than those that are not.
Sizing and fit is also important, and many players are now going towards smaller manufacturers who can make them custom-fitting gloves at a similar cost to widely-distributed gloves. Still, most of the brands on the list below will have different sizing options so players should have no problem finding something that fits them.
Craftsmanship and stitchwork is important as it will determine the durability of your glove, including its ability to withstand the rigor of a full baseball season. Obviously finding something hand-made is important, and if you’re picking anything from the list below you can rest assured that these all have impeccable stitchwork and are high-quality gloves.
Are USA-Made Gloves Better Than Gloves Made In Other Locations?
Previously much was made about gloves being manufactured in the USA and how that was better than those made overseas. This may have been true in the past, but those differences are quickly eroding and anyone who maintains this perspective may be hanging on due to pride or ignorance.
These days, most major manufacturers will have operations in China or Japan, some in Mexico as well. The cost of shipping leather is much cheaper and the craftsmanship, which used to be second to those hand-made in the USA, is really second to none. All gloves still have to pass the same standards and quality checks regardless if they are manufactured locally or overseas. So you should feel confident in buying a glove from any of the manufacturers on this list, regardless of its country of origin.
Best Of The Rest
Here’s 5 great manufacturers that didn’t make our top 5 list, but all have great things going for them and may find themselves moving into the top 5 next year:
- Louisville Slugger: a strong brand that does well in everything it touches.
- Vinci: they’ve developed a bit of a cult following and it’s easy to see why, these custom gloves are not only beautiful to look at but also comfortable to wear.
- Nike: a long-time player in the market, Nike has spread itself a bit too thin and hasn’t grown its’ glove line in a while.
- 44 Pros: great customization and craftsmanship delivered at a low price.
- Easton: they’ve done a great job of making good gloves, but have yet to find a signature glove to take hold of the market.
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Below are the top 5 manufacturers as well as a trademark baseball glove from each brand:
Wilson is first up on our list as they have been producing excellent gloves for decades now, with a trademark commitment to quality craftsmanship. Their signature glove is the A2000, which has earned terrific feedback as a high quality, durable glove with lovely leather and stitchwork. Used by man major league players as their glove of choice.
- Beautiful pro-stock leather (American steerhide) that conforms to your hand without prolonging break-in time
- Dual Welting places two leather strips parallel to each finger to reinforce the pocket
- DRI-lex breathable leather wicks away moisture, perfect for hot afternoons
- Worn by many major league players, who have provided ample feedback to Wilson on how to improve design and functionality
- Laces can be frail if pulled too tightly
There’s a reason so many pro ballplayers prefer Wilson and the A2K, and you can see for yourself the quality design and functionality is right up there among the very best.
Rawlings and Wilson have always been neck and neck in the battle for best glove manufacturer, and their continued dedication to delivering high quality products is unrivaled. Rawlings carries this craftsmanship to all their lines, including their gold glove series, pro preferred, and most notably, the vaunted heart of the hide series. This has been a classic series for anyone who loves and appreciates a good glove, and the results continue to impress. Stars such as Manny Machado and Albert Pujols favor Rawlings for this very reason.
- Heart of the hide premium steerhide leather used in construction
- Deer-tanned cowhide interior lining
- Mod-trap conventional backing
- Fully-grained leather ensures durability and enforces stability
- Requires substantial player break-in
Can’t really go wrong with Rawlings and their Heart of the Hide line, which is why it a preferred choice of many major league gold glove award winners. Rawlings will continue to impress with these beautifully constructed gloves for many years to come.
Nokona has been around for many years but has only recently, within the last decade or so, begun to really make a name for themselves with their gloves. The Texas-formed company used to make wallets and handbags, but during tough times turned to sporting goods as well. Most commonly known for their bats, as used by sluggers David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera, their gloves have become more common with a handful of major leaguers now sporting them.
- All gloves made by hand in the USA
- Refuse to compromise on quality - all gloves, even entry level ones, are expensive
- Exceptional customer service (offers repairs on any wear and tear)
- One-year full warranty from Nokona
- Pricing may exclude some buyers
- Sturdy but overall quite stiff, will require some time to break-in
No question Nokona has secured a spot among the other big brands in baseball gloves, as it continues to pay attention to exceptional details and the quality is quite evident in the stitchwork and overall craftsmanship.
Every player does need a glove, and Mizuno has done a great job at creating a glove for every player, regardless of skill level or talent. While some other companies may focus just on higher end gloves for serious players and professionals, Mizuno brings their quality to all their gloves across a variety of series and lines.
- Entry-level gloves are priced very competitively
- Classic look that pays no attention to aesthetics, focusing only on quality stitchwork
- Full leather lacing on webbing
- Uses a ‘speed-drive’ technology to give faster reaction time
- Proprietary Kip leather (from north Europe) introduces tight fibers that are stronger than prior versions
- Shika palm liner has deerskin that gives a softer feel
- On average, Mizuno gloves are slightly heavier than other manufacturers
Mizuno has stepped it up recently with their production from Shanghai and the results are really showing, as the combination of technology with superior leathers has forged together a strong competitive offering in the baseball glove market.
Akadema hasn’t been known for gloves too long but they keep on impressing each year. Most impressively, their gloves have been known to be game-ready within a week out of the wrapper, which would be a feat unheard of for many other big brands. Akadema also generally makes a wider pocket than other companies, which is great for added protection, especially for those with bigger hands.
- Precision series uses Kip leather as well, just like Mizuno, which is lighter than traditional deerhide while offering a tighter stitch
- Leather hides come from Europe which are then brought to Japan for tanning
- Excellent tensile strength and durability
- Short break-in time
- Not too many entry-level gloves available
Major leaguers like Shane Victorino and Kevin Pillar use Akadema gloves, and more and more outfielders are starting to take notice. Akadema is strongly challenging Rawlings and Wilson for their craftsmanship and is rising in the ranks as they become more popular. Many high school and collegiate level players and coaches already acknowledge Akadema as the best in the game.
Which Baseball Glove Brand Is The Very Best?
All of the gloves and companies above make terrific gloves, but overall I love the work that Akadema is doing. It really is a wonder how a glove can show up so stiff but within less than a week be ready for use in a game, and I believe as Akadema gains more exposure at the major league level more casual players will take notice.