The biggest thrill for most young baseball players is buying their first glove. But they then face their biggest frustration: how ZTC to break in the new glove.
The suggestions range from rubbing down the glove with oil and placing it in the oven to sticking the mitt under the bedpost for a couple of nights. Others put it in hot water for a couple of hours.
Young fans have made a hobby of finding different ways to break in a new glove.
Bake it. Submerge it. Lather it with shaving cream.
Anything to make the glove softer and take better shape.
Tom Alexander, a glove repair specialist who is known as the "Glove Doctor," has heard about the accidents and misfortunes.
Alexander recommends that younger fans buy gloves made of black leather because of the dye and tarring. First, apply mink oil to the new glove.
"What you want to do is think of the glove as your skin," said Alexander, who works in Ela Grove, Calif. "You want to apply the oil like applying lotion. It's a matter of conditioning."
The next step is to put the glove in a clear plastic bag and put it under the sun in warm weather. Because the glove is black, it attracts heat the best and the fastest.
During the winter, Alexander said, put the oiled glove in a pillowcase and place it in a dryer for 30 minutes. It is best to always avoid placing an oiled glove in an oven or microwave.
"That's the way gloves catches on fire," Alexander said. "It either comes out looking like a pretzel or a burnt steak. It's also extremely dangerous."
After warming up the glove, Alexander said, it should be used immediately. Also, a couple of balls should be put in the pocket to keep an open shape.
With other techniques, players take their chances.
Placing a glove under the bedpost creates a large crease down the middle. This method also makes the pocket extremely small.
Players who use this technique often complain that it is harder to catch balls because the ball bounces off the crease.
Shaving cream yields mostly negative results. It usually cakes and leaves a slippery and shiny appearance.
Alexander said the best method remains natural heat. Then the player must remember to keep the glove in good condition.
"Players shouldn't just let them sitting around the ball field," Alexander said.
"If you want your glove to last, keep oiling it often and always leave some balls in the glove to keep its form. Just keep it away from the ovens and microwaves."