What is a Baseball Sliding Mitt?

Watching a baseball game, you might see some baserunners wearing something that looks like an oven mitt. Not everyone wears one during a game, so it might seem odd. What is the purpose of using this baseball sliding mitt during a game? The full breakdown of why baseball players wear oven mitts on the basepaths can be found here.

What is the Purpose of a Sliding Mitt in Baseball?

Baserunners use sliding mitts to protect their fingers and hands from injury. When a player steals second base, they might jam their fingers as they dive into the base, which can result in injury. A base can easily slip off during a slide in little league baseball, but it is firmly attached to the ground in professional leagues, which can cause finger injuries.

Another hand injury can occur when a baseman steps on your hands by accident with their cleats. It’s common for players’ hands to get stepped on during a steal, but it can also happen during a play at the plate. The catcher at home or the baseman protecting the base might step on your hand if you collide with them.

Baseball sliding mitts protect your hand, wrist, and fingers from common injuries on the field. The gloves will provide more protection than not wearing any gloves or using batting gloves instead.

When Do Baseball Players Put the Oven Mitt On During a Game?

During a game, baseball and softball players do not bat with this mitt. After getting on base from a hit or walk, they retrieve this mitt from the coach. They usually put their batting gloves in their back pockets after putting on the mitt.

What Hand Do you Wear the Sliding Mitt on During a Game?

During a game, baseball and softball players can wear a sliding mitt on their left or right hand. During slides, some players choose to wear gloves on their throwing hand, while others use the hand they lead with. The choice of whether to wear it on your left or right hand is up to the baseball player. Players usually wear this mitt on one hand while keeping the other free.

What is the Baseball Sliding Mitt Made out of Typically?

A sliding baseball mitt combines plastic, hard lining, and velcro straps. During head first slides into bases, compression straps support your wrist, which is essential. Baserunners can free their thumb or tuck it into the protective mitt with most gloves having a thumb hole.

Are There Benefits to Using a Sliding Mitt on Gameday?

Using a sliding mitt during gameday allows players to reach further on headfirst slides. If you don’t have a mitt, you don’t want to extend your fingers on a slide since you can jam them, and that can make all the difference on a bang-bang play. You can, in theory, reach a base with a bit more reach if you wear this mitt.

Is there a Size Limit to Sliding Mitt Gloves?

There is no size limit for these mitts according to the 2019 official baseball rules. Baseball umpires, however, can approve or deny a sliding mitt if they determine it has an unfair advantage.

Who was the First MLB Player to Wear a Sliding Glove?

In 2008, Scott Podsednik received credit for wearing a sliding mitt. A previous injury to Scott Podsednik’s thumb required him to wear protective gear around it, so he wore this mitt. In the later stages of his career, Scott Podsednik injured his pinkie sliding headfirst into second base, which prompted him to wear a sliding mitt.

More and More Players Using the Mitt Today

More players began using the mitt after Podsednik, an All-Star player, began using it in 2008. Major League Baseball players Brett Gardner (New York Yankees) and Bryce Harper (Philadelphia Phillies) began using the mitt during games. Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Fernando Tatis Jr (San Diego Padres) also began using that protective equipment on the basepaths. 

Do Players Need to Wear Protective Gear on the Basepaths?

Baserunners are not required to wear sliding mitts in baseball. Baserunners may opt not to wear gloves, their batting gloves, wrist guards, or sliding mitts if they wish. A player can use a glove while running base as long as it is not too long, is only used for protection, and was approved by the umpire before game time.

Why Do Some Players Hold their Batting Gloves as they Run?

To prevent their fingers from extending on a slide, old-school baseball players would clench their batting gloves as they ran. When you extend your fingers, you run the risk of jamming them on a base or getting stepped on by a player’s cleats. Holding on to your gloves prevented you from extending your fingers since you would drop them.

Why Do Some Baserunners Hold Dirt in their Hands?

Many players hold onto dirt instead of gloves on the basepaths so their fingers don’t extend when sliding. In most cases, players who don’t wear batting gloves hold dirt in their hands. In order to prevent your fingers from sticking out while sliding, hold dirt in your hands.

Conclusion: What is a Baseball Sliding Mitt?

The baseball sliding mitt protects a player’s hands and fingers from potential injuries. In addition to preventing jamming your fingers when you slide headfirst into a base, the oven mitt also protects your hand from being stepped on by players. Next time you see a player wearing that type of glove, you’ll know why.

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