I bet you never even gave a second thought to the baseball glove’s wrist strap. The strap is the most important design feature in terms of comfort, fit and function for your glove, keeping it on your wrist just right.
Today there are a variety of ways gloves can stay fastened, ranging from elaborate lacing, Velcro and even air bladders that can be pumped to tighten around the wrist.
The earliest gloves were nothing more than literally leather workman’s, the kind that were retailed in hardware stores. The strap was no more than a simple leather strap that fastened around the back of the wrist bound with a small buckle or metal button. The adjustment could be made tighter with several additional holes for the buckle and button.
As gloves changed in design in the early twentieth century, the strap did not change from the workman’s models. Metal button straps were relegated generally to less expensive models and the buckles were found on more luxury models.
The common laced wrist strap first appeared on catcher’s mitts as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, but was primarily used in less expensive models. Various types had cushioning attached to the straps consisting of soft leather, felt and wool fleece and rested on the back of the hand.
Up until World War II, buckle and button straps were standard, however, faced with the dilemma of war rationing, which restricted the use of steel for the war effort, glove manufacturers had to come up with a substitute to the buckle and button. The result was the laced wrist strap, which is still common to this day.
After the war, production of gloves began to ramp up and imaginative strap designs appeared, like the Rawlings “Snuggler” and Wilson’s “Hold Tite.”
In the late 1960s the designers at Rawlings came up with the revolutionary fast back design, which is a classic to this day.