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Amazing History of Hidden Baseball Patents

Feb 25, 2008
With the advent of the great American pastime, Players, Coaches, Parents and Inventors have made amazing strides in the development of baseball mitts and gloves. Advancing Player performance at all levels which is tempered by distributed cost are the challenges faced by all.

Many significant advances are protected by United States Patents. Contemporary gloves make these original designs seem obvious in their development. But at the time, these changes were ground breaking.

An early Patent, Ball Players Glove. Although not baseball specific, the abstract gives full detail on what it is used for and whom they are to protect. Filed by Edwin Loucks of New York on August 23, 1887 under Patent Number 368,724. Essentially, this is an open finger glove with leather palm and rear strap with buckle.

The ringing goal for his invention was to be 'serviceable, cheap and extremely durable.' Here, Player protection while participating in this new game drove its development.

As it has been said before, what is old is new again with time. Even in 1887, cost control for players was in the thoughts of their parents and equipment makers. The best mouse trap in the world is useless if the cost to acquire it outweigh the benefits of having one.

Further United States Patent 1,056,909 in 1913 by Charles M. King of Washington DC as assignor to AG Spalding & Brothers a New Jersey Corporation. In the Abstract, "The object of my invention is to produce a base ball glove or mitt in which the palm portion is constructed to present a more adherent surface in catching a base ball."

Notice that baseball way back then was two words. But this summary pretty much starts it all; modern age of improving glove technology and the gloves ability to catch a baseball. Here creating equipment to functionally assist the Player.

US Patent Number 01,496,824 Robert F. Nixon Jr. of Philadelphia Pennsylvania took things up a notch with his patent in 1924 by most notably adding fingers to his Baseball Gloves and Mitts Design.

Through the history of baseball, design changes like these have been added to those then contemporary models. Each improvement enabling Players to stretch just a little farther or make plays during the heat of the moment not previously seen.

Another US Patent Number 2,750,594 by Henry Denkert of Johnstown NY added one of the most recognizable features still used in baseball glove and mitt manufacturing today. He created the baseball glove with a pre-formed pocket. His creativity forever solved an ongoing problem. "Gloves of conventional construction take considerable time for the pocket to form properly and since the padding can shift its position, the pocket may not retain its proper shape." This break through occurred in June 19, 1956

From this point forward gloves look much as they do today. Changes in assembly, materials and processes still add to the equipments ability to function at a higher level then their predecessors.

One lingering question on the mind is would the historical greats have done better or worse if contemporary equipment was available to them. Would a 1924 Major League short stop have the same skill and ability if he was trained with a superior performing glove. Would he have learned to use two hands as well as he did when his glove demanded two hand performance?

It almost seems obvious that the player using a pocketless glove would have a significant in developing the use of two hands for all catching situations. When choice is provided between using two hands or clasping with one, modern players, particularly new players, opt for the single hand solution. Without great Coaching, breaking these habits is extremely difficult and could spell the demise of the Players advancement.
About the Author
Mr. Dowdy is an Official Distributor for NW Kelley USA Baseball you can also click over to Hirsch Group for more tips/articles or even Hirsch Group Blog for current events.
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