Turn on any sports highlights television show, and you will see incredible baseball catches regularly. No matter how often you see similar plays, it never gets old. The outfielder chases down a fly ball, then dives or slides at the last moment to snag the ball and record the out before it gets a chance to land in play.
How can you make stunning highlight reel catches like that? It goes without saying that making big plays like that takes plenty of practice. It also helps if you have the right equipment for the job.
When searching baseball gloves for the right model, you will likely come across the popular Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Outfield glove. Rawlings is a popular brand name that you will commonly see worn by the pros. Is that the result of a big marketing budget for signing endorsement deals, or is Rawlings worthy of its popularity among ball players?
Let's take a closer look at the Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Outfield Baseball Glove and see if it is one of the best baseball gloves on the market.
First of all, we should cover a quick lesson about baseball gloves. Many people, especially beginners, believe a baseball glove is a baseball glove. Go out, buy a glove, and play whatever position you want.
While that sentiment may work for people just having casual fun in a weekend beer league softball game, it's not true for competitive players who need the right equipment.
An outfielder's glove, on the surface, looks very similar to other baseball gloves. It uses the same general shape and appearance you are used to seeing on most other gloves. However, there are some small differences in the design that can have a big impact on your ability in the position.
Since outfielders have to move quickly and track down fly balls or line drives that are often moving fast, their glove needs to be able to help them cover a lot of ground. To help them do this, outfielder's gloves are usually longer than other gloves. When chasing down a fly ball, that added length could be the difference between making the catch and letting it fall into play.
In addition, the outfielder's gloves also have deep pockets to help prevent high-fly balls from bouncing out of the glove during the catching process. Other positions don't need to handle fly balls as frequently so their gloves are designed slightly differently to suit their unique needs.
Do these differences mean you can't use an outfielder's glove anywhere else on the field? If you are a high-level player,, you probably want to use the right glove for your position. If you are having fun playing weekend ball then using an outfielder's glove instead of an infield glove while you try, different positions will likely not matter a lot.
If you play the position, buying an outfielder's glove is a good idea. It is especially important if you are playing at a high level of competition and you need the absolute best performance possible from your equipment.
A trusted brand like Rawlings makes some amazing gloves as evidenced by their Rawlings Primo Glove line, so it's clear they are a baseball equipment industry leader. If the promises they make about the Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Outfielder's Glove are accurate, this glove should stand above much of the competition.
Rawlings has emphasized lightweight design and long-lasting durability. They have built this glove with strong, flexible mesh and real leather. The result, according to Rawlings, is a 15% reduction in weight. This should allow outfielders to move more efficiently and make more catches compared to players using heavier gloves.
The thumb is reinforced, perfect for players who have to negotiate hard-line drives. An awkward bounce or a poorly timed movement could mean you don't catch the ball perfectly. The reinforced thumb should help protect from broken bones and injuries.
Rawlings also advertises that their gloves come 75% broken in from the factory. This feature may be important to some, while others may not care at all. Breaking in a glove is important to ensure it fits and feels perfectly. Some people dislike the breaking-in process so Rawlings has taken care of much of it already. This should mean that the glove is ready for game action sooner than a glove that does not come broken in from the factory.
All you have to do is get some practice time in, use some glove oil (check our list of best oil for baseball glove options), and perhaps make use of a tool designed to help you know exactly how to break in a new baseball glove if you have one. Personal preference plays a major role in how people break in their gloves, and Rawlings has left the last bit of breaking in up to you.
Marketing copy on a website is one thing, but what do people think about this glove? Does it get the job done, or are there better options for people who need the absolute best when chasing down that final out?
Generally, reviews about the Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Outfield Glove are positive. After reading several reviews, we were able to identify some consistent thoughts among people who purchased and used this glove.
Let's start with the positive comments. It appears that the 15% reduction in weight did not go unnoticed by buyers. People regularly mention that the glove is lightweight while seemingly not losing any of its durability. That's a good sign for buyers who want great performance but a strong glove that won't need to be replaced earlier than other models.
The lightweight construction has an added benefit that people noticed but was not mentioned in Rawling's marketing materials. On a hot day, during a long game, the lightweight build helps the hand breathe and prevent buildup of sweat that could cause performance issues when fielding a ball.
A few people noted that they enjoyed the amount of padding put into this glove. The Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh glove strikes a nice balance between a lot of padding and not enough. Of course, this is also partially a personal preference issue as some people may prefer a lot of padding and find this glove insufficient.
While we couldn't find any strong negative reviews about this outfielder glove, there were some notes from people that you may want to consider when buying.
Although Rawlings promises the glove comes 75% broken in from the factory, several reviewers noted that it was still very stiff and required substantial breaking in before being ready for game action.
Again, this is another personal preference issue, but the regularity we saw in this comment suggests that it takes a lot of breaking in before the Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh glove is ready to go. On the bright side, that partially speaks to the glove's durability. You don't want something that breaks in too easily or that could suggest that it will wear out just as quickly.
If you are buying this glove, you may want to allow for enough time to properly break it in before playing in the big game. If you need a glove ready to play with right away, you may need to look at other options and sacrifice the quality or durability of this Rawlings glove.
One of the most difficult things about buying a baseball glove can be the number of options available. How do you narrow down your selection to find the right one?
We have already covered the differences between the different styles of gloves and why an outfielder needs a proper outfielder glove. Of course, that still leaves a lot of options on the table.
One of the main things people look for first when shopping for baseball gloves is price. While price is not the best way to narrow your options, it is hard to ignore the budget. The level you are playing at could also dictate your budget. A high-level high school player might be willing to spend more for the right equipment than someone just looking to casually play for fun once a week.
This Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Baseball Glove is a mid to high-range option, and the pricing reflects that. There is no doubt that you can find less expensive gloves. Of course, with that, you are giving up some quality.
Entry-level gloves are great for beginners and casual players with the lowest budget. The Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh glove is probably too large an investment for these people. Entry-level gloves usually use synthetic materials that will wear out faster than real leather. These materials are often heavier as well.
(Looking for a youth first base glove, be sure to check out the Rawlings Renegade Series of First Base Mitts)
In addition, entry-level gloves may not offer added features like extra thumb protection. This might not be a big deal for entry-level players but could lead to injury in players who are dealing with better hitters.
On the other end of the spectrum are the high-end gloves. These gloves can come with a price tag as high as $400 or more. Essentially, these gloves are marketed at the most serious players who need the best technology in their gloves.
Rawlings does have some similar features to high-end gloves. For example, most high-end products will also use real leather and offer reinforced thumb protection. However, they pack in some additional features to justify that increased price.
In some high-end gloves, you will find special, patented padding. This could even be called multi-zone padding, with a customized feel for different areas on the glove. Whether you need those features depends mainly on the level you're playing at. For most, however, a mid-range glove like the Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh is a great option that won't break the bank.
At this price point, you will not find the perfect ball glove. Compromises must be made if you are unwilling to spend as much as the highest-end gloves demand. Rawlings has made an effort to make sure you don't have to make too many compromises while still getting a quality product.
If you want great performance from your ball glove, then you can feel confident that Rawlings, one of the top brands in baseball, will meet or exceed your expectations. They have packed a lot of features into this reasonably priced glove which will stand head and shoulders above entry-level gloves that are not made with the same care and attention.
The Rawlings Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Baseball Glove checks off many of the most important boxes. You should feel confident purchasing this glove and putting it into game action. See you on the highlight reels!
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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