Why are Baseball Gloves So Expensive?
Besides hard work invested in practice and natural talent, optimal performance on the baseball field will often depend on the equipment you’re using.
Proper and quality equipment can sometimes provide that little bit of edge that can make you stand out among other ball players.
However, once you start shopping for baseball gear, you’ll likely notice that the equipment that’s on the higher end of the offer is usually quite expensive.
This is especially true for baseball gloves which can easily take a big chunk out of your budget.
This can be quite a financial burden, especially for those who are not involved in baseball professionally, such as recreational players or parents of kids who are just starting to play baseball.
So, you’ve probably wondered why are baseball gloves so expensive.
Below, I’ll explain the reason why baseball gloves cost so much and detail what goes into their price.
So, let’s dive in!
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Why are Baseball Gloves So Expensive?
The main reason why gloves are so expensive is the material they’re made of.
Another factor contributing to the price is the brand of the glove, as you can expect to pay more for a glove made by some of the proven manufacturers.
You also need to count on the labor needed to make a glove, as well as other production and logistic costs, such as customizing, quality control, packaging, shipping, marketing, etc.
All these costs quickly add up, making the product as it appears in stores quite expensive.
Of course, as you’ve probably noticed, the price of gloves can vary greatly.
Obviously, gloves used by pros, that are made of premium materials and by famous manufacturers, will be the most expensive.
Still, with a higher price comes higher quality.
Expensive gloves are commonly more durable and make it easier to get the ball in and out of the pocket.
Glove Price Breakdown
To help you better understand why the baseball gloves are so expensive, I’ll break down their price and explain the main components that are responsible for the high retail price.
As I already explained, the material is the main contributor to the overall cost of a baseball glove. The gloves are primarily made of different kinds of leather.
The leather type used to manufacture a certain glove will be the key factor in how much it will cost, but also how flexible, comfortable, and durable it will be.
Genuine leather is expensive on its own, but the complex and costly manufacturing process also adds to the price.
Each piece of leather that arrives at the factory first has to go through rigorous quality control. This involves testing it in a laboratory and color-coding according to the quality grade.
Once the approved leather enters the manufacturing process, it goes through several stages, each conducted by experienced craftsmen, who pay great attention to every little detail.
Below are the different types of leather used for gloves, sorted from least to most expensive
Baseball gloves made of synthetic leather are the cheapest available on the market.
They’re the budget-friendly option and are mainly intended for those who play baseball recreationally and kids who are just getting started and not yet fully committed to playing the game.
The good thing about synthetic-leather gloves is that they are very light and flexible, so they don’t need a “break-in” period.
On the other hand, they don’t offer the level of comfort as the more expensive gloves.
While they do feature padding and have some impact-absorbing and moisture-resistant properties, this is nowhere near the quality and comfort provided by natural leather.
So, even though they’re a decent option for beginners, if you plan to play baseball more seriously, you’ll need an upgrade pretty soon.
Full-grain leather is the leather where natural grain remains. It’s still a budget option, rarely costing over $60.
Full-grain leather gloves, commonly made of steerhide or cowhide which are rather thick and tough, are a bit heavier and stiffer than those made of premium types of leather.
This means that they will take a longer period to properly break in. However, once broken in, they have a fairly long life span and provide a solid performance.
Gloves made of premium steerhide belong in the next price bracket and, depending on the brand, will set you back between $75 and $300.
For this money, you get an extremely tough and durable glove, able to withstand the rigorous requirements of professional baseball.
This is why they’re so popular among pro players, although they can be also used for amateur baseball.
The one downside is that, due to the toughness of the leather, they will take a very long time to break in.
Kipskin leather gloves belong to the high-end group of baseball equipment.
They’re made from soft and luxurious leather taken from cattle in the age between the calf and adult cow.
These gloves feature durability matching the premium steerhide while being much lighter, softer, and smoother.
Kipskin leather gloves provide a perfect balance between ruggedness and comfort, with the break-in period much shorter than with most of the other glove types.
Due to their light weight and flexibility, they offer great control of the ball, which is why they’re particularly popular among infielders.
Other Types of Leather
In their effort to make even lighter and softer gloves, manufacturers sometimes turn to some more exotic types of leather.
The most common leather types in this group are kangaroo and yak skin.
Both these kinds of leather are very thick but firm, very flexible, and easy to stretch, which significantly shortens the time needed to break in the glove.
However, these gloves are commonly less durable than classic cowhide leather gloves.
Cost of labor is another significant item on the list of factors that contribute to the price of a baseball glove.
As I already mentioned, the glove manufacturing process is fairly complex and includes tasks such as cutting, sewing, finishing and ironing, inspecting, and, finally, packaging gloves.
Many of these stages require a highly skilled workforce, which, of course, is not cheap.
Plus, the more complex the glove design, the production process will last longer and the costs will rise even more.
The cost is especially high for high-end gloves, made of rare and premium materials, which are produced in smaller quantities.
That’s why they’re the most expensive, although the quality of the finished product is usually worth it.
Producing gloves in higher volumes reduces the cost of labor, but often at the expense of quality.
When purchasing baseball gloves, you’re also paying for the brand name. The price can vary greatly depending on the manufacturers.
Established brands spend a lot of money on advertising and other related costs which reflect on the overall price of the glove.
On the other hand, well-known brands are often a guarantee of quality and offer a wider range of products, as well as better customer service.
Some of the more established names in the baseball glove market are Wilson, Rawlings, Easton, and Mizuno.
Even with just a glance at the available offer of baseball gloves on the market, you’ll notice that most of them are rather expensive.
The main reason for this is that they’re commonly made of genuine leather which is considered a premium material and has a premium price tag to go with it.
Still, depending on how serious you’re about the game and the level you play at, you can still find some gloves that are fairly affordable.
The trick is to find the right balance between the quality and durability of the glove on the one side and budget-friendliness on the other.