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From this article The Last American Baseball-Glove Maker Refuses to Die

In the early days of baseball, it was considered unmanly to use a glove. Broken bones were common. The first mass-produced gloves had little padding and no fingers. In the 1920s and ’30s, companies started producing gloves with a web between the thumb and forefinger, to create a pocket.

So there once was a time when baseball players didn't wear gloves. Hence the questions:

  1. Why didn't cricketers ever start wearing gloves?
  2. Is fielding in baseball really more liable to lead to finger injuries than cricket fielding?
  • I have two theories... 1. in baseball the ball is hit a lot harder than in cricket. In cricket the batsman tends to try and nudge the ball fairly often whereas in baseball the objective is to hit it as hard as possible. Hence a glove is needed much more frequently in baseball than in cricket. 2. (I prefer this one). Skill. A baseball player only needs to be in the right place to catch a baseball whereas a cricket player needs to have a much higher level of skill to try and catch the ball. I also compare it to the padding in American Football V no padding in Rugby. – Kevin Anthony Oppegaard Rose Aug 15 '17 at 8:15
  • The rugby player will need a higher level of skill to make the tackle as he is not protected with all the padding that an American footballer plays with. Hence he risks injury if he tackles incorrectly. Similarly the cricketer risks dropping the ball (or breaking fingers) if he catches incorrectly. – Kevin Anthony Oppegaard Rose Aug 15 '17 at 8:16
  • It's almost certainly nothing to do with skill or the hardness of hits. Cricket is foundationally a "game between gentlemen" and amateur gentlemen at that. To wear gloves would be enormously unsporting, and nobody would dare stoop to that level. It would just not be cricket. – Nij Aug 15 '17 at 8:39
  • @Nij any writings or sources for that? It does sound like the kind of thing Victorian gentlemen might say but need a quote to be sure. – Jay Sep 11 '17 at 17:10
  • "A baseball player only needs to be in the right place to catch a baseball"? That's absurd! Baseball players have a lot of ground to defend, especially outfielders. Just this week a player hit a grounder at 109 mph. Try fielding that with no glove! – jmh Jun 16 '18 at 0:06
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Regarding 1.

Why didn't cricket players ever start wearing gloves?

I focused on why baseball players began to wear gloves, because it is a much more answerable question, and can be used to contrast with Cricket history to see what Baseball did and Cricket didn't.

A.G. Spalding, a premier baseball pitcher of the 19th century, a member of the first class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and eventual founder of the Spalding sporting goods company, claims to have first seen a glove in baseball in 1875, on the hand of Charles C. Waite. Waite had a small flesh colored glove to protect his hand.

According to Spalding:

Therefore, I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn't care to attract attention.

He later added:

If anyone wore a padded glove before this date I do not know it.

It appears that Charles was certainly ridiculed for wearing a glove, and even took efforts to hide it. It is presumable that a Cricket player would receive the same treatment. Players who used them were viewed as weak. So why did it catch on? Spalding, one of the most popular players in the game, began to use one himself in 1877, and began to sell them from his catalogue:

Still, it was not until 1877 that I overcame my scruples against joining the 'kid-glove aristocracy' by donning a glove. When I did at last decide to do so, I did not select a flesh-colored glove, but got a black one, and cut out as much of the back as possible to let the air in.

Happily, in my case, the presence of a glove did not call out the ridicule that had greeted Waite. I had been playing so long and had become so well known that the innovation seemed rather to evoke sympathy than hilarity.

It took a famous figure of Baseball, A.G. Spalding, to adopt the practice and sell gloves to make them more mainstream. Perhaps if a prominent cricketer adopted a glove, it would have caught on and silenced the ridicule.

Regarding #2

Is fielding in baseball really more liable to lead to finger injuries than cricket fielding?

I believe the answer to this question is yes. In baseball, the goal is roughly to hit the ball as hard as you can, every time you are up to bat. The MLB has recently been tracking average exit velocity. The games best hitters average 90+ mph (144kph!) hits every time they are up to bat. I believe it is a safe assumption that a harder hit ball would be more dangerous to catch and painful even if successfully and properly caught. In cricket, the batsmen, while certainly capable of hitting the ball with fantastic velocity, do not, because the strategy of the game rarely calls for it.

In cricket, a ball struck along the ground is considered safe, because you cannot be caught out. Many balls in cricket are hit along the ground, with little velocity, making it simple and safe to pick up the ball. Occasionally the ball is hit with much greater velocity, whether on the ground or in the air, and these strikes require a great deal of defensive skill to catch for an out or to stop a boundary.

In baseball, a ground ball results in an out ~75% of the time(look for ground ball BABIP). The strategy of baseball requires batters to hit the ball on line drives or in the air as often as possible. Hard ground balls are also more common, as a ground ball that does not leave the infield, similar to most dot balls in cricket, would result in a certain out.

Great skill is still required of baseball fielders, who have much less margin for error than a cricketer. A single misplayed ball may cost a team a run. In a game where each team averages between 4 and 5 runs per game, a single run can have a huge impact on the game. In cricket, a misplayed ball can sometimes result in a 4, or in very rare cases, a 6. But in a sport where the scores run up in the hundreds, an individual boundary will have less of an effect.

In conclusion, due to three factors:

  1. A prominent baseball figure adopting the (at the time) controversial glove.
  2. The strategy of the games, where baseball calls for more hard hit balls that cause more damage, while cricket has many more slow rolling defensive shots.
  3. The increased emphasis on defensive skill in baseball, where a single misplayed ball usually has larger impact on the final score than in cricket.

Baseball adopted a glove for all fielders while Cricket did not

  • A related question that may help gain insight would be "why do cricket players wear leg pads and baseball players do not" - 1. Differences in the mechanics of the game, baseball players legs are in danger much less, 2. cricket did not always have pads, it took people to commit to them and they became more popular, 3. speed between bases is more important in baseball than cricket, so any use in baseball would significantly affect performance – ckett Jun 12 '18 at 20:58
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@Nij is very much correct. Cricket is a gentleman's game and it would be changing too much from traditions for fielder to start wearing gloves. Also the outer leather of a cricket ball is not as hard as the outer cover of the baseball - this is the same as the inside too - the baseball is not made from soft cork, so the "sting" of catching a slow moving baseball bare-handed is much more than a cricket ball. In a cricket innings, the ball is hardest is when new, as the ball condition deteriorates, the ball becomes softer and softer, and as a result we see less and less need for gloves.

Though broken and sprained fingers are common in cricket, they are not the leading cause of injuries - muscle injuries- back, shoulder, side and knee for fast bowlers, and hamstring for batsmen are still causing cricketers to have to spend time off the park.

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