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First Catcher's Glove? About 1870, Perhaps

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: Cincinnati, OH, United States
Game Base Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult

"Re: a claimed antedating of catcher's gloves 

"Another early primary source glove reference is to Cincinnati Red Stocking catcher Doug Allison wearing gloves in 1870: 'Allison caught today in a pair of buckskin mittens to protect his hands.' Cincinnati Commercial June 29, 1870

"For several yearly editions starting in 1872, the DeWitt Guide had the following advice: "The catcher will find it advantageous when facing swift pitching to wear tough leather gloves with the fingers cut off near the joint and they will prevent him having his hands split and puffed up."

"The earliest advertisement I’ve found for “catchers’ gloves” being sold commercially is 1875.

"There are many secondary source references to gloves being used in the early 1870s by Allison, White, Nat Hicks, Fergy Malone, and others. I agree that gloves were somewhat common and not considered shameful in the early 1870s. The shaming started in the late 1880s and 1890s when the infielders and outfielders starting using very large gloves (originally meant for catchers) which were often derided as “oven mitts” or “boxing gloves.”



Cincinnati Commercial, June 29, 1870.



In the 1880s we find a claim that catchers' gloves had been known in the 1860s:

"An exchange says that 'Jim White, the third baseman of the Detroit club, was the first man who ever used gloves while catching behind the bat.'  This is a mistake. Delavarge, the catcher of the old Knickerbockers, an amateur club of Albany, used gloves when playing behind the bat in the sixties."  The Sporting News July 5, 1885.

But in a 9/21/16 19CBB posting, Bob Tholkes wrote:

"I've read several Knick of Albany game accounts in which Delavarge played without running into any mention of gloves. If he wore them, it would have been to protect an injured hand (he was a blacksmith, if memory serves), and not routinely."

And then David Arcidiacono offered the 1870 Allison item listed above. 


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Submitted by David Arcidiacono
Submission Note 19CBB Posting, 9/21/16


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