Ah, the smell and feel of an old mitt that fits the hand like a second skin. The crack of a favourite bat. New stuff can never replace your favourite old baseball gear, so you’ll want to keep it in tip-top shape.
How to soften a stiff mitt
There are nearly as many opinions about the “right” lubricant to use to break in a baseball mitt as there are rules in the game. Traditionalists opt for Neatsfoot oil (which is available at most shoe stores), linseed oil or a specialized glove oil. Others maintain that petroleum jelly, oil lubricant and even bath oil are just as effective, if not better. Still, the method for breaking in a glove is more or less the same in all cases.
1. Spread some of the lubricant of your choice all around the glove using a soft cloth; then rub a bit more into the pocket of the glove and under each finger.
2. Place a baseball in the pocket and fold the mitt sideways. Keep it tied up with a belt, an Ace bandage or some heavy-duty rubber bands. Let it sit for one or two days; then open the mitt and wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth.
3. As soon as you get a chance, use the mitt for about 15 minutes (50 to 70 throws) to help it contour to the shape of your hand.
Taking care of your baseball glove
Once your baseball glove is broken in, you can keep it around a lot longer if you follow these few simple rules:
• Don’t leave it in the trunk or on the seat of your car — or anywhere else where it can be exposed to excessive heat or light, either of which will eventually dry out and crack the leather. You also shouldn’t dry a wet glove on a hot stove or radiator. Instead, use an absorbent towel.
• Don’t over-oil your glove; twice per season should be sufficient.
• Keep the laces tight, and store it with a ball in the pocket when it’s not in use.
Taking care of wooden bats
Metal bats may be all the rage, but wood will never lose its appeal among baseball purists. Here are a few ways to keep those wooden bats swinging:
• Wipe down bats with alcohol after each game or practice session to remove any buildups of dirt or pine tar.
• Try to avoid getting bats damp or wet. When a bat does get wet, dry it off as soon as possible with a soft cloth and rub in a little linseed oil.
• Periodically condition your bats by rubbing them against another wooden bat. Use hard strokes for about five minutes until surface looks smooth and even.
• Store bats vertically in a dry place, with the handle up.
Get dirt and stains off your baseballs by soaking them in 250 millilitres (one cup) of water and 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) of ammonia.
Turn the ball as needed in the solution. Rinse with cold water and dry.
This cleaning method also works for basketballs, footballs, golf balls, soccer balls and volleyballs as well.