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Archive for February, 2009

Breaking In A Glove

*Guest Blogger* Joe Murphy discusses the proper way to break in a glove.

Joe is the CEO of Glove, Inc., a company in the greater Boston area that repairs and restores gloves.

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Joe has been repairing and reconditioning baseball gloves since 1983. He has played amateur and semi-pro baseball for 21 years, and has coached on the college level. Over the past 25 years, he has worked on and restored thousands of gloves. His work has been endorsed by hundreds of ball players, from Little League to the Pros. He reconditioned the glove Dennis Eckersley used in the 1989 World Series. He worked on gloves of former Red Sox Trainer, Charlie Moss, right in the Red Sox Club House.

Old Wives Tales
There are many old wives tales about the proper, the best, the only way to break in a new glove. Let me take a minute to dispell a few of them.

The most widely known misnomer is to take your new glove, put a ball in the pocket, wrap some string around it and leave it under your mattress. No, that doesn’t work too well. You get this lump in your mattress, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep, and you end up with a smelly glove that still needs to be broken in.

Another one is to soak a new glove in a bucket of water, let it dry in the sun and play catch with it. You might as well just throw it in a dumpster, because soaking a glove in water will ruin it. As it dries, all of the natural oils in the leather – the only thing that is keeping the leather supple and healthy, dries out. Such a glove never had a chance.

The best way to break in a new glove
The best way to break in a new glove is to play catch with it, a lot of catch.
We all have very unique hands. Just like fingerprints, no two hands are alike. Even your right hand is subtly different from your left in size, strength, etc. A new glove has to, and eventually will conform to the unique contours and features of your hand. In order to do that, the glove must be worn a lot and be used in catch a lot – so the leather gets warm, stretches a bit and conforms to the unique way you hold the glove and catch the ball.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t use mink oil, neetsfoot or linseed oil on your glove. They are too heavy and will clog the pores of the leather. Then, as the glove gets dirty, the dirt and oil get trapped in the leather, making it heavy and eventually will rot the leather.
  • Don’t use Vasoline or other petroleum products on your glove for the same reason. It’s too heavy for the leather and will clog up the pores. You want your glove to break in light and flexible.
  • Don’t use shaving cream. The foam gets clogged up in between the laces and the lacing starts to rot.
  • Do wipe your glove down with a damp cool cloth after you use it.
  • Let it rest on the thumb and little finger, so you don’t distort the pocket you are trying to create. Never let a glove rest on its side. This is a cardinal sin. The glove will cave in under its own weight and you’ll never have a well formed pocket.
  • Don’t use any additives to try to accelerate the break-in process. Just let the leather conform to your hand naturally, by playing as much catch with your new glove as you can. You’ll know when it’s ready for its game debut: when it feels right, when it feels like part of your hand.

Have fun and play ball. Hit ’em where they ain’t.

Joe Murphy
CEO, Glove, Inc.

Call (617) 230-3371 for more information on Joe’s glove restoration process.
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*Guest Blogger* Al Becker talks about his approach at the plate.

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Blogger Bio
Al Becker has been playing in local amateur leagues for the last 10 years. He was most recently a member of the Yawkey Baseball League 2008 Champion Bluefish Baseball Club, for which he hit .402 and won the Silver Slugger in right field. Becker finished the 2008 YBL season in the top 10 in almost all offensive categories.




What is your approach at the plate?

While I do focus on hitting up the middle, I think as I’ve gotten older, 37 now, and a veteran of more than 10 seasons in the MABL and YBL, my offensive game has improved with an increase in pulling the ball.

Of course we are all taught to hit the ball back from where it came, which is up the middle — at the pitcher. That theory often worked for me, especially when I’ve got the count to a point where I think a breaking ball might be coming. I’ve never tried to pull the breaking ball. But early in counts, especially last year, when I felt confident and strong, I was looking to pull the fastball….just reacting.

Al Becker

How do you practice your hitting?
I am a big fan of the Iron Mike machine during the season, especially when I have a few days off between games. Even before games it’s helpful. Success to me in the Iron Mike cage is hearing the loud bang when I hit a liner off the machine.

I see guys in the cage taking violent rips and pulling everything into the screen. Instead, in the cage I focus on shortening my swing, waiting as long as I can on every pitch, and going back up the middle. I also like to move my feet around and focus on hitting pitches from the middle out, the opposite way.

What are the keys to hitting the ball up the middle?

  1. Waiting on the ball as long as you can.
  2. Keeping your head (your body follows) on the ball and staying back.
  3. Getting the correct pitch. I can’t hit an inside fastball back at the pitcher, my hands aren’t quick enough to wait and do that. Look middle out.

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“The Book”

Question: What book is read by all baseball players?

Hint: It’s not the Bible. And, it’s not the Da Vinci Code.

Answer: THE Book

If you play baseball, there is a book on you. It dissects you as a ballplayer. The book on Vlad Guerrero will tell you he’s a free swinger. The Book on Dice K will tell you to work the count because he will hit his pitch count in the 6th inning if you do. These examples are pretty broad. The Book at professional levels is amazingly thorough. It could tell you that Josh Beckett throws an inside fastball to righthanded power hitters when he is behind in the count in close games.

The Book at amateur and scholastic levels lacks that level of detail. I’ve seen many pitchers take advantage of this. Consider a pitcher with 3 pitches (fastball, curve, change-up). My pitcher throws all fastballs and curves for the first 5 innings of the game. Now, the batting order is going to turn over for the 3rd time. Hitters have their timing down. They think they’ve figured out my pitcher. Now, my pitcher starts mixing in his change-up. They didn’t see it coming and that third at bat feels more like a 1st at bat for these hitters. Before they know it, the game is over.

Next time you are pitching or preparing a pitcher for a game, don’t just read “the book” on the hitters. Think about what book the hitters are reading. It could win you a ballgame.

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Gripping a Baseball Bat

Let’s keep it simple. There are two things you need to remember when it comes to gripping a baseball bat:

1. Line up your middle knuckles

When teaching young kids, a useful teaching strategy is to take a color marker and draw a line over the middle knuckles. When the kids get ready to hit, make them show you the straight line.

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2. Don’t strangle the bat

You need to be loose when you’re ready to hit a baseball. Just like when you’re gripping a baseball, hold it like an egg.

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Tee It Up

It’s that time of year in the Northeast when most baseball training takes place indoors. A recent trip to a batting cage made me realize I have been hitting off tees incorrectly for 23 years. Are you?

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When you are in the batter’s box, your eyes are directed at the pitcher. Why should things be any different when you are hitting off of a tee? They shouldn’t be. But, I guarantee that most of you place the ball on the tee and hit the ball without your eyes ever directed towards where the pitcher would be.

At one local batting cage, they hang fluorescent hoops at the far end of the batting tunnel. They instruct their players to pick up the hoop (representing where the pitcher would be) with their eyes first, and then bring their line of vision back to the ball and swing. Practice like you play, right?

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