Have you ever wondered how to flare a baseball glove? Flaring a glove is an involved process that requires patience and repetitive action.
The specific instructions go something like this: work the oil into the leather and in the oven it goes. Take it out, flare it, and back in the oven it goes.
Over and over the process repeats until you get the desired effect and it’s etched in permanence. Find yourself among a group of old-time baseball players and they’ll all regale you about the benefits of a good glove break-in process, which usually involves rolling it and curling it.
But it’s not often that you’ll hear about how to flare a baseball glove. Even though flaring a glove is a tradition that’s every bit as old as the others, it doesn’t quite get the acclaim of the rest.
When you flare a baseball glove you stretch the surface area from thumb to pinky, making it easier to field the ball and also making it easier to transition the ball from glove hand to throwing hand so infielders can complete quicker throws and maybe even a double play or two!
How To Flare Your Baseball Glove
It’s not difficult to flare a glove, all it takes is a bit of time (sometimes as little as five minutes!) and attention. You’ll need a few items to complete the process.
- Baseball Glove
- Oil — Vasoline, Olive Oil, Linseed Oil, Saddle Soap, Shaving Cream With Lanolin, Manufacturer’s Oil, Tanner’s Glove Oil, Mink Oil, Etc…
To get started you’ll need to heat up your oven. It shouldn’t be too hot, around 200°.
Take a small amount of the oil of your choice, spread a light coat on the glove, and carefully begin working it into the leather with light pressure. Be careful not to oversaturate it; we recommend using a small sponge to control the amount and avoid getting it all over your hands.
Once you’ve worked the oil into the leather, the next step is to toss it in the oven — preferably on a cookie sheet — and let it bake in there for about five minutes. The idea is to get the leather hot enough to soften it so that you can work it into your preferred shape.
Pull the glove out. If the glove feels soft and supple, it’s time to start working on it.
If it’s still too hard, throw it back in for another minute. When the leather is soft and workable, begin flexing it out.
To flare a baseball glove essentially means to flatten it out. Do this glove work by stretching the finger stalls out (all the way from the thumb to the pinky finger stalls), like a fan, until you get the desired flare design while still maintaining a comfortable fit over your hand.
As you break in the glove and flare the finger stalls you will create a larger catching surface that, in turn, will make it easier to complete a quick play. Once you get it flared out enough — and it’s still a comfortable fit — it’s time to form the pocket.
How To Form The Pocket
You won’t need the oven anymore so don’t forget to turn it off! The next step is to put your ball inside the glove and wedge it into the pocket by closing the glove around it.
Now take your shoelaces and wrap them around the glove — you can tie them if need be — until they hold the glove closed over the ball. The tightness with which you tie the laces will determine the type of pocket you create; loose ties will get you a shallow pocket with more room, while more pressure will make a deeper pocket.
All you have to do now is wait. You can toss the glove up on a shelf and leave it alone for at least 24 hours.
When you unwrap it the next day, you should have a flared glove with a well-formed pocket. If the pocket is not quite to your liking, you can always repeat the process as many times as you wish, adjusting the tightness of the lshoelaces until you get just the right amount of pressure.
A final note on the flaring process: don’t use the microwave! It doesn’t heat the glove properly or evenly and will more likely damage or severely burn it before anything else.
Benefits Of A Flared Baseball Glove
The benefits of flaring your glove before using it at its first game applies more to infielders than outfielders. Since the stretch of a flatter pocket increases the surface area, your odds of stopping and fielding the ball better increase.
For those playing middle infield, a flared glove gives you the advantage of a quicker grab and throw. Gloves that are in a more curled position have a deeper pocket and a tighter fit that makes it more difficult to get the ball out quickly.
Shortstop and second basemen get the most out of a flared glove because they need a quick transition from glove to throwing hand during the game..
If you want to learn how to flare a baseball glove, the only real disadvantage to consider is whether or not your playing style and level of comfort are affected by a flared glove. If it isn’t a good fit and you’re not comfortable with it, a flared glove probably isn’t for you.
Outfielders occasionally flare their gloves as well, although there’s no distinct advantage to it other than it possibly being a more comfortable style for the individual player. Outfielders typically want gloves with deeper pockets, as it helps to catch pop-ups or deep fly balls.
Can You Purchase Pre-Flared Gloves?
Not really. Occasionally you will see a new line of gloves from Wilson, Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, or others that will come pre-flared, however, those lines are mostly discontinued because flaring a glove is all about personal preference. You may want to find the best online closeout deal you can, and then fine-tune the flaring process at home.
In fact, discontinued styles often give you a chance for home run savings! (See what we did there?)
There are many baseball glove manufacturers who sell lines of baseball gloves that are already broken-in. Some will sell them broken-in up to a certain percentage, or just market them as “game ready.”
Game-ready gloves are typically manufactured and then run through a rigorous machine “breaking-in” process.
Flaring a glove is something that will predominantly remain in the hands of the players who purchase the baseball gloves. The grip that works best for your playing style, the distance from your thumb to the other finger stalls, these are small details that are best customized by the player themselves — even the pros get involved in the flaring process because it’s such a personalized adjustment.
It’s difficult to sell gloves that are already flared because the multi-step process is meant to create exact specifications for an individual player, not a mass group or even an entire team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it good to flare your glove?
Flaring your glove is all about personal preference. It certainly doesn’t harm the glove; just remember to not use too much glove oil and don’t use too much heat or a microwave.
For infielders there’s not any harm in flaring the glove to adjust the grip position of the finger stalls. Having a flared glove can make it easier for your fingers to put pressure on the baseball; softening the pinky finger stalls can be especially beneficial because they can be mighty helpful when you’re trying to stop a ball.
Should I flare my outfield glove?
There’s no reason not to flare new gloves, even though there’s no distinct advantage for an outfielder to have a flared glove. Mostly, an outfielder may choose to break in their glove in order to increase their comfort.
What does flaring a glove do?
Flaring your glove creates a wider playing surface. This gives your fingers easier access to the ball when it’s in the glove, which makes fielding the ball easier and also hastens the transition between glove and throwing hand.
Should infielders flare their gloves?
Second base and shortstop receive the largest advantage with a flared glove. The quicker transition from glove to throwing hand helps them throw the ball around the infield faster.