This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (May 2019)
Batting gloves are a component in bat-and-ball games sportswear. Typically consisting of a leather palm and back made of nylon or another synthetic fabric, the glove covers one or both hands of a batter, providing comfort, prevention of blisters, warmth, improved grip, and shock absorption when hitting the ball. Batting gloves are considered an essential part of cricket equipment, though they are not mandatory at any level of the game.
The majority of baseball players, at any level of play, wear batting gloves. They are worn because they help increase the quality of the grip on the bat. Maintaining a tight and controlled grip is essential to successful hits. Even the slightest slip or variation in grip can cost the team greatly. They also act as a protector of the hand when one slides into a base. Batting gloves today are even worn by fielders because they say that they feel better in their glove. Another prime use for batting gloves, especially in younger leagues that permit aluminum bats, is shock protection. On a cold day, a bad or loose swing can fracture fingers.
History in baseball
The verifiability of the claims made in this article is disputed. (December 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Some claim the first player to wear a batting glove was Bobby Thomson of the Giants, who wore golf gloves during spring training in 1949. Ken "Hawk" Harrelson has been credited with being the first player to wear a batting glove in an actual game (as opposed to usage during batting practice).
In 2013, an hour-long documentary, called “Hawk: The Colorful life of Ken Harrelson,” began airing on the MLB Network. At roughly the 22-minute mark of the presentation, Ken describes his involvement in the origin of the batting glove (although he calls it the "hitting" glove in the documentary). Ken does not state the year, but describes that in his first two years in the big leagues, he made more money playing golf, shooting pool, and armwrestling than he did playing major league baseball, and goes right into a story. Ken describes, after playing 27 holes of golf with fellow players, Ted Bowsfield, Gino Cimoli, and Sammy Esposito, he went straight to the ballpark for a game against the Yankees, whereby he developed a blister on his left hand during batting practice. He goes on to say that he remembered he had his golf glove in the pocket of his jeans and that he went to bat wearing the "flaming red golf glove" in the 1st inning to face Whitey [Ford]. He claims that in that 1st-inning at bat, Whitey hung him curveball that he hit it "450 feet" for a home run over the left-center wall. He goes on to say that in about the 6th inning, Whitey hung him another curveball and he hit that one about "480 feet". He concludes the story by saying the next day, all of the Yankees came out of their clubhouse with flaming red golf gloves on, as Ken stated that Mickey [Mantle] had the "clubby (clubhouse attendant) go out and purchase them. Harrelson laughs and states, "and that's how the hitting glove got started.”