A high-quality baseball glove functions as a separate hand, and allows players to catch balls effortlessly. And when it comes to the pro world, few brands can compete with Rawlings gloves. From pricing and competition to overall quality, here’s what you need to know about this brand’s baseball gloves.
Rawlings Gloves Review
For many baseball players, whether they play in the stadium or the backyard, getting the right glove is important.
Baseball gloves are so much more than protection for your hand. In the hands of the right player, the right baseball glove can dramatically affect play. The glove can act as an extension of your hand, and in some cases, provide more grip and more dexterity than if you had played barehanded.
It’s very common for new players to seek out the most popular and name-recognizable brands on the market, and that’s for a very good reason. In the world of sports, it is often some of the biggest brands that hold the lion’s share of quality products. And perhaps there’s no more popular and recognizable baseball glove brand than Rawlings.
Rawlings gloves can be found all across Major League Baseball and throughout all other minor leagues. Rawlings themselves made the bold (and accurate claim) that more MLB players trust Rawlings gloves in their games than any other brand.
But is all of that hype worth it? And, is the type of glove that works for Major League Baseball players going to work for the minor leagues and backyard games?
We’ve taken a close look at Rawlings gloves, compared them to offerings from other major and specialty brands, and worked to see what exactly sets Rawlings apart from some fairly still competition. We’ve also looked at what the public wants and needs in a baseball glove, as well as their thoughts on the quality of Rawlings and much more.
By the end, we’ll be able to definitively say whether or not Rawlings deserves a spot in your dugout.
What Are Rawlings Gloves and How Are They Different?
As a company, Rawlings focuses on so much more than gloves.
Founded in the late 19th century and focused exclusively on sporting goods from day one, Rawlings makes helmets, bats, balls, apparel, and so much more. However, the real focus of the company, from the website to the major reputation around the company, is centered on their gloves.
But before we can get into why gloves from Rawlings are so special, we’ll first have to take a close look at what makes a baseball glove most effective for the wearer.
For quick reference, baseball gloves are comprised of the following basic elements:
In many ways, a baseball glove is essentially a far larger version of a traditional form-fitting glove, with a few adjustments. Lacing, for instance, laces together your first four fingers—preventing them from moving individually and increasing their grip when moving in tandem.
The palm and heel of the glove, where a partial amount of impact takes place, is padded and designed to protect the hand from the base to the finders. The hinge can also be found in this area—where the glove is designed to give to allow for easier closing of the hand when a catch is made.
Finally, there is the most crucial element of the baseball glove—the web, or as it is sometimes referred to as, the pocket. This region is where the majority of impact from the baseball will be felt, and generally speaking, this area needs to be the strongest, as no part of the hand lies underneath it.
Each of these elements is made up partially or entirely out of either synthetic or traditional leather. This means that the glove will have a “break-in” period that allows players to manipulate the glove to fit perfectly in their hand over time. High-quality leather will mold and bend to the needs of the player and is crucial for a great glove.
In case you hadn’t already guessed, gloves from Rawlings are typically made from some of the highest-quality materials found in baseball. And while their gloves do range wildly in price, much of what makes Rawlings different is that their quality doesn’t dip at the lower end of their product line up nearly as much as you would expect.
While few people would consider Rawlings a budget company (more on this later), it is comforting to know that their gloves are designed for excellence in the sport no matter which model you pick up. It’s a large part of what makes the gloves unique.
What Makes Rawlings Gloves Unique?
One of the biggest things that makes Rawlings unique is the focus not on a broad range of prices, but a broad range of options.
Rawlings offers several variations of standard gloves, fast pitch options, slow pitch options, pro gloves, infield gloves, catchers mitts, and so much more. Each time comes with several different ways that you can customize your purchase and walk away with a glove that’s going to be right for you.
Rawlings also has a focus on add-ons—offering a break in kit, glove wrap, and treatment sprays for a reduced cost with every glove sale. These add-ons are tailor-made to work with gloves from Rawlings and make it so much easier to preserve the life of your gloves, which brings us to yet another unique selling point about these gloves—their longevity.
The focus on materials and maintenance kits means that Rawlings has a reputation for having some of the longest lasting gloves in the industry. Aside from larger glove companies such as Wilson (more on the competition later), we think it’s going to be difficult trying to find a longer-lasting glove for hard use at a similar price point than the gloves from Rawlings.
And speaking of pricing:
As we’ve said before—there’s not a significant range of prices to pick from when it comes to a glove from Rawlings. Most of their choices are going to run between $100 and $200, with some options running down to $40 and their pro picks running all of the way up to $300 or more. And depending on where you look, this may or may not be considered expensive.
Wilson gloves, for example, is one of the biggest competitors with Rawlings and holds the title of being the Official Glove of the MLB. Rawlings looks affordable by comparison—as Wilson gloves tend to cost $300 or more.
On the other hand, even the most affordable Rawlings offerings seem steep when compared to something like a supermarket glove for a child or teenager. At the end of the day, how expensive or how affordable Rawlings seems to you is going to depend on your perceptions.
If you need a baseball glove to toss a ball around within the backyard, Rawlings may seem steep, and in some cases, may not be worth it. Rawlings aims to bring pro gloves to the masses and holds a decades-long reputation of quality. If you’ve been playing for some time and wish to advance your game, the cost of a Rawlings glove won’t seem all that bad.
The perception that the general public has on the Rawlings brands will vary somewhat between who you ask and how you ask. In baseball, as in many other sports, there is a tendency for many to “swear” by their chosen brand. In other words, some may feel inclines to unjustifiably dislike a brand simply because it is not “theirs.”
However, as a whole, the public and the baseball community especially feels as if Rawlings is one of the superior baseball brands. This is also evidenced by how the brand has permeated the sport and become the most used baseball glove by Major league Baseball players.
It is often said that Rawlings is second only to Wilson regarding overall quality—and it is also often said in reverse. As it stands the competition with Wilson seems to be one of the major points of contention raised to the company. And while a little competition is healthy, it is interesting and somewhat ironic that—much like with rival baseball teams—two baseball glove manufacturers have had a decades-long rivalry.
We’ll get into Wilson a little later on, but as it stands, Rawlings holds a reputation for superior leatherwork, great designs, and gloves that break in better than most. The detriments raised against Rawlings typically have to do more with an obstructively large logo on most products rather than an issue in quality.
It is worth noting that a glove from Rawlings is going to advertise that fact rather heavily—through the two larger logos Rawlings includes on most designs. However, much like with Apple for technology, many consider Rawlings to be a status symbol as well as a great product. In some cases, that level of advertising may be appreciated.
How It Compares
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, you cannot discuss comparative brands to Rawlings without discussing Wilson.
Wilson gloves are designed with high-quality materials and offer just as many variations and options for players as Rawlings does. Making clear comparisons between Wilson and Rawlings can be difficult—as the differences between the two are often so small, they end up coming down to personal preference.
However, we can say that Wilson products cost more overall, and tend to have a reputation for being easier to break in. This could be due to a difference in the leather used on each, as well as different lacing patterns and techniques.
Rawlings, for their part, has a reputation of making better gloves for first basemen—who need a tailor-made glove for often catching balls low to the ground. Rawlings focuses on gloves that break in better as well. While their leather may be more taunt right out of the box, over time, you may find that a Rawlings glove can quickly feel like a second skin.
At the end of the day, we have to admit that it would be hard to go wrong with either choice. Both companies work hard to compete with each other—which only makes it more likely that a glove from either company will suit your needs.
Personal preference plays a major factor here, and provided you aren’t the first baseman, there are just as many arguments that could be made for Wilson as there could for Rawlings.
What We Think
We think that a glove from Rawlings has the potential to be one of the best investments you’ve made in your journey as a baseball player.
If you haven’t already made the jump to professional gloves, picking up a Rawlings means picking up a glove that’s going to be ready to handle just about everything. After the break-in period, a glove from Rawlings is going to respond to your finest motor movements and help you stop a baseball dead in its tracks.
However, that doesn’t mean that a glove from Rawlings is right for everyone. Those who are just starting may not want to deal with the cost or the break-in period of a premium leather glove. It’ll be up to you to decide if this investment is worth the cost.
One thing is certain—the right glove can mean the difference between a win and a loss, which is why it is vital that you look into which specific glove from Rawlings may be right for you. Each hand is different, and many positions benefit from differences in webbing and style.
The more you focus in on what’s important in a glove for you, the better your odds become of getting a glove from Rawlings that lives up to your expectations.
So, before you hit up your next amateur or little league game, remember that the pros use Rawlings for a reason. Do your research, pick out the right glove for you, and get back to improving your game with a product that’s going to help take your skills to the next level.