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I play catcher for a very informal "beer-league" softball team, and have realized that I prefer different gloves at different points in the inning.

With no one on base, I want a big outfielder type glove for catching foul-tips and short pop-flys. A catcher's glove isn't as reliable for a novice player like me.

Once a runner is in scoring position, I want more of a traditional catchers glove, because it has a lot of catching-and-trapping power, so I can reliably catch balls thrown full force from the outfield to home-plate ahead of the runner.

I haven't asked the umpires yet, but would it be legal to keep a second glove near the backstop, and switch gloves once a runner gets to 3rd?

What about in more professional leagues? Could players change gloves mid-inning? (provided it does not delay the game) Are there good reasons to do so?

  • This will depend heavily on your local league's rules, are they codified somewhere? – wax eagle Apr 21 '15 at 15:33
  • We play in USSSA. But I see nothing in the rules that either allows or forbids changing gloves. – abelenky Apr 21 '15 at 15:44
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    I imagine this would be up to the umpire. There's no particular reason it would be disallowed, I don't think, except for the delay it might cause. – Joe Apr 21 '15 at 17:48
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You are allowed to switch gloves in the middle of an inning, you just don't see it that much, and in softball leagues it would more be an annoyance in the way of a delay. In softball, you are probably just fine if you can quickly grab it as play is stopped as long as you have it readily available and easy to access.

As for your question about pro leagues, you almost never see it (mostly because they typically don't sub defensively in the middle of innings). The only time you generally see it is if there is a fielding injury and someone from 3B is switching to 1B, where they then want their 1B glove (or infield to outfield since OF gloves are bigger and vice versa).

In the most recent odd case though, there is Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous and switch-pitching pitcher for the Blue Jays. His being called up made MLB make a rule specifically for him. A quote from this article:

"The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter. Engaging the rubber with the glove on a particular hand is considered a definitive commitment to which arm he will throw with. The batter will then choose which side of the plate he will bat from." The article adds later that the pitcher and batter are allowed to switch once per at-bat.

Hope this helps.

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There is really no "baseball" rule preventing you from doing this. So the umpire will have to decide if the delay in the game is worth it. You cannot have two gloves on the field at once so at some point you will have to run to dugout and come back.

As a long time umpire, I would just simply tell you it isn't happening. It is an unnatural delay in the game. If I allowed everyone to do it half the game could be retrieving gloves. What do I say to the SS that likes a different glove for lefties or the outfielder who wants a different glove to clog the infield... My simple answer would be no. I will let you switch it once, then you are set. But umpires can let you do whatever and maybe you could get away with it being a catcher. If you have a good umpire though they will not let this kind of ridiculousness happen - what if the hitter had a different bat for each count variation?

On a more semantic approach - why would you choose a catcher's mitt? Catching a foul tip or pop up is far far more likely of an occurrence vs. a super hard throw and close play at the plate. Played catcher for years and the only reason I need a catcher's mitt is for hard thrown pitches and for when a guy is stealing (easy to get the ball out of catcher's mitt). Since neither of those happen in softball your request is even more absurd.

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