Category Archives: Technical Stuff

Breaking In Your New Glove

So, you just bought a new baseball or softball glove and it’s a little stiff, what do you do?  Well, there are a million different schools of thought on this issue and we truly believe that there isn’t just ONE right way to do it. Today we’ll talk about a few of the more common ideas about glove conditioning and provide you with some links to other resources.

Softening the Leather:

No matter how you choose to break in your glove at some point you’re going to have to soften the leather so that the pocket is able to form and you get a good “hinge” effect when you open and close the glove.  There are several ideas about leather softening, including mink oil, linseed oil, neatsfoot oil, shaving cream, saddle soap, and petroleum-based substances like Vasoline.

A can of neatsfoot oil and a small dollop of t...

Image via Wikipedia

We like lanolin for leather softening because it lubricates the leather without clogging the natural breathability of the glove.  Since lanolin is derived from sheep skin and not petroleum it won’t lead to the eventual  drying and cracking that can occur with other products.  Another good option is mink oil, which is similar to lanolin.

In addition to these oils just about every glove manufacturer has there own blend of glove oil or conditioner.  Just remember, whatever you choose DO NOT overdo it, a little goes a long way and you don’t want to end up with a sticky, oily mess.

Forming the Pocket:

Now that you’ve got the leather nice and soft you’re going to need to mold the pocket.  Depending on which position you play you may want to consider different shapes or sizes of pocket formation.  Overall though you want to acheive a deep pocket in order to hold onto the ball but not one that is so deep that it becomes hard to get a handle on the ball when you need to make a throw.  There is nothing worse than having to dig around for an extra second before you fire to first.

With pocket formation there are again several ideas about how best to achieve the desired effect.  Obviously, the best way to form a custom-fit pocket that is molded to your hand is to go out and toss the ball around; there is simply no substitute to actually working with the glove.

English: Nokona Baseball Glove

Image via Wikipedia

However, there are things you can do when you aren’t using it to help the pocket form faster.  We like to take a softball or grapefruit and place it deep in the pocket near the bottom of the webbing and then tie a heavy rubber band around the whole thing, making sure to center the pressure around the object that is forming the pocket.  Using an object that is slightly larger than the ball you are catching will allow a bigger, deeper pocket to form.

You can apply even more pressure by placing the glove under your mattress and sleeping on it, though this can sometimes be uncomfortable.  We don’t recommend this unless you are truly committed to the idea.

Once you have softened the leather and formed the pocket you should be good to go.  You can repeat this process if you need to.  However, we reccommend that you actually play with the glove a few times before repeating since you won’t know how the process worked until you use it.

Other Considerations:

Heat – Some people swear by the heat-treatment method.  This technique  requires you to put your glove in a 300 degree oven for 3-4 minutes.  When doing this you must turn the oven off once it has reached temperature, you don’t need constant heat.  You can also use a microwave as some Major League players do.

We DO NOT recommend this method as it can very easily damage your glove beyond repair.  A better idea for heating your glove is to leave it out on a rock in the sun for a while.  This should give you enough heat to allow the oil or conditioner to penetrate deeper into the leather.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24:  Mark Teixeira #25 of t...

Shaving Cream?Image by Getty

Shaving Cream – Some people swear by this method of leather softening.  We’ve never really seen it work any better than the natural oils you could use and since there are a lot of chemicals in shaving cream it might not be the best for your glove over the long term.  Those who do use this method say that it is quick and effective.  You are on your own with this one.

Steaming – There is a realitively new process offered by some sporting goods stores where by you steam your glove in their steam chamber machine.  This works on the concept of heat, pressure, and moisture and will soften a glove very quickly.  However, some people claim that the glove becomes heavier because of the water that is forced into the grain of the leather.  Eventually this moisture will evaporate but the long term effects of steaming are still somewhat unknown.  If you have a place near you that offers this service it might be worth having a conversation with them, it might be the route you decide to go.  Whatever you decide, though, make sure to let the professionals handle this one, not something you want to attempt on your own.

– Mike from Mattingly

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Mattingly’s Ask the Expert: BBCOR vs. BESR

As you can imagine we here at Mattingly Sports get a ton of questions about our products and about baseball in general, from rules and regulations to specifications and suggestions.  In order to address these questions for the general public we’ve decided to collect all the questions about a certain topic and when we have enough we pass them along to our Lead Bat Designer and Head of Research and Development for him to answer.

Welcome to the first entry of our new “Ask’s The Expert” series!  
This week:  BBCOR vs. BESR

One of the biggest stories in amateur baseball this season is the switch from the BESR standard to the BBCOR 0.5 standard for High School.  Below, we attempt to answer some common questions surrounding this change. 

First, what are BESR and BBCOR anyway? 

BBCOR and BESR are both methods of testing and scoring a bats performance.  BESR stands for Ball Exit Speed Ratio and BBCOR stands for Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution.  The tests are actually very similar.  The primary difference is the calculation used to determine the “score”.  Simply changing to the BBCOR system did not require a change to the design of the bats.

But BBCOR bats are lower performing than most of the old BESR bats, right? 

Yes, in general that is true.  More important than the test method is the maximum allowable “score” established on either scale by the associations.  In the case of BBCOR, a maximum score of 0.5 is allowed for high school bats beginning in 2012.  If you “converted” the old BESR limits to a BBCOR value, they would be higher than 0.5.  For an everyday example, consider driving speed limits.

60KM/H Speed limit sign in Australia.

Whoa! Slow down buddy!

We can measure highway speeds using both Miles per Hour (mph) or Kilometers per Hour (kph).  Most cars have both scales on the speedometer.  Let’s say the speed limit on your local highway is posted at 65 mph.  Then let’s suppose your local government changes the posted limit to 104 kph.  Guess what?  No big deal because 104 kph is roughly equal to 65 mph.  But, what if they changed from 65 mph to 80 kph?  Well, you would have to slow down because the new limit not only uses a different scale, but also has a lower relative value.  The new 0.5 limit chosen on the BBCOR scale was low enough that most bats had to be redesigned.

So, if the limit is designed to be like wood, could I just use a wood bat?

Of course, most associations allow you to use a wood bat if that is your choice and Mattingly has a great selection of wood bats.  However, non-wood bats still have advantages to consider.  First, the BBCOR 0.5 limit is designed to perform
like a very good wood bat.  Wood bats tend to be much less consistent than non-wood bats.  Wood, being a naturally occurring material, has more variation than either aluminum or composite man-made materials.  While BBCOR bats tend to have a heavier swing weight than BESR bats, they still generally have a lighter swing weight than wood bats.  Non-wood bats typically have a larger perceived sweet spot and have better feel.

Mattingly Adult Ash MB110

There is a guy on the internet who says he can make my BBCOR bat better.  Is this a good idea?

No.  Be wary of the Snake Oil Salesman.  The new rules and testing methods take into account most of these “services”.  For example, to be BBCOR certified, a bat must still be under the limit after repeated rolling.  If a bat gets better by rolling, it can only get better up to the maximum allowed BBCOR value.  Therefore, if rolling improves it, it has to be a lower performing bat to begin with.  More importantly, any tampering with the bat aside from normal use is considered illegal by every major association and could be a violation of trademark law.  Bottom line – save your time and money.  There is no substitute for hard work.

– Chuck from Mattingly

Chuck is the current VP of Operations and Research & Development for Mattingly Sports.  He holds multiple degrees in both engineering and business and is the resident guru of all things technical at Mattingly.  

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Mattingly Sports “Hitman” Pitching Machine Manual

Hey Mattingly Nation!

A lot of people have been asking for a reference guide for the Mattingly Sports “Hitman” Pitching Machine, so here it is!  This is the original owner’s manual that came with the unit, in case you misplaced yours.

We will add more tips and tricks for how to get the most out of the machine as we go along but for now here it is:

Hope this was helpful!

– Mike from Mattingly