And so, on December 19, 2016, Bradley Baseball was launched after three -plus years of development and design. A few questions I keep hearing are: Why are you, a former sportswriter, starting a youth baseball glove company? And, what makes your gloves so great. I'll attempt to answer those questions here.
I love baseball gloves. Since my high school days, where I was a semi-mediocre infielder and sometime outfielder/pitcher, I loved examining the different types of gloves that were used. I was very particular about things like the weight, the feel, the style, but mostly obsessed with the shape and the pocket of the glove. I remember taking pitcher's gloves and slinging them aside. "How can you even put this on your hand?" I'd say to one of my teammates as I fumbled to fit their ill-fitting glove on my hand.
When I became a major league beat writer, covering the Yankees for the New York Daily News, in 1992, my favorite pastime was asking infielders if I could check out their leather. One player in particular, utility player Mike Gallego, humored me more than most. Gallego, you see, was a glove collector. One day, we were playing a media game and I had my glove with me. "Gags" asked if he could check it out. He looked at me and said, "I've got to have this glove." He then said to me, "Pick any glove you want out of my locker." And so, I did, choosing a tiny glove with the thought that one day I'd have a son.
Anyway, I watched Gallego use my glove during pre-game, occasionally giving me a thumbs up, or a nod of approval. But when the game started, I was bummed. He wasn't using my glove. "Oh," Gallego said, "I love it. But that doesn't mean it'll be my gamer."
I continued to study gloves over the next 20-plus years, noticing the way players were changing the way they shaped their gloves. Where it was once trendy to curve the fingers in, players started to "flair" the fingers out. I was fascinated. And I began to dream of one day designing my own line of gloves. But how would I compete with the big boys? I wouldn't. My focus would be kids gloves, because one thing I'd noticed after becoming a dad, was that the quality of youth gloves was seriously lacking. Throughout my kids' Little League careers, they used hand-me-downs that were too big. But they worked. Youth gloves simply did not have the right pocket or shape to do the job. I schemed. And, like I said, on a cold New Jersey morning in December of 2016, my shipment came in.
So, what makes my gloves so special? Working with my brother, a nine-year major league ballplayer, we started to think about the problems with most kids' gloves. Number one was that they rarely worked with one hand. Yeah, that's right. Contrary to what your Lilttle League coaches have told you for years, you do not use "two hands" to catch a baseball. You catch the ball with your glove and take it out with your bare hand. Man, I get tired of watching kids running for flyballs with two hands extended as if they're going to catch a football. One hand, one hand, one hand!
To catch a ball one-handed requires confidence. So, we designed these gloves with very soft leather, to feel comfortable on a kid's hand, but with stiff inserts in the pinkie and thumb, so the glove doesn't bend or flop when the ball hits the pocket. With minimal break-in, every Bradley glove should have a sweet spot that welcomes the ball.
I think the gloves are phenomenal, but ultimately, youth players will be the judge. I hope you'll give us a chance, order one up for the spring, and let your kid have some fun.
In all my years of youth baseball coaching, my mantra was, "The only play that matters in baseball is the next play. "Here's hoping you make the next play with a Bradley Glove.