Back in the day, all baseball and football players went barehanded. Jim Brown? No gloves. Hank Aaron? No gloves. But those bare-knuckle glory days are long gone. Now nearly every single NFL player (except QBs, punters and kickers) wear gloves. And why not? They're stickier, they protect against injury and they look cool.
The same goes for the MLB. It's now quite unusual to see a player step up to the plate without the added protection of batting gloves. Although some NFL players are part-time no-glovers, and some MLB players resort to a barehanded approach when trying to break a slump, the true bad*sses are the ones who go gloveless every game, like the following six players.
When you look at the condition of many retired football players' hands, you realize one must be borderline insane to play in the NFL without gloves. Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry does exactly that, and it's helped him earn the utmost respect of his peers (the three Pro Bowls help, too).
Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin told NFL Network, "It's pretty cool [Berry] doesn't play with any gloves on. It's kind of old school." Although Berry goes gloveless, it certainly doesn't seem to affect his catching. He's got sick hands for a DB, having pulled down a number of tough interceptions over his first few seasons in the league. Berry's bare-skin approach is reportedly in honor of Sean Taylor, the late Redskins safety who opted for a bad*ss taped-finger look during his playing days.
St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter is on fire this post-season. He's hit three home runs and three doubles in only 12 at-bats—even more impressive when you realize he's done it without batting gloves. The two-time All-Star told stltoday.com, "Most hitters feel naked without [gloves]. I feel the same way with them on."
Carpenter's hands get brutalized throughout the grinding schedule of a major league season, so he uses various hand lotions to keep them fresh. When a deep cut opens up, he applies Super Glue. Carpenter says he has worn batting gloves only once during his baseball career—a frigid game at Air Force when he was playing for TCU.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Wil Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year award last season, and at only 23 years old, he's one of the game's bright young stars. But his approach to hitting is 100 percent old school. Myers never wears batting gloves. Hitting big league pitching with no gloves is painful, leaving Myers' hands calloused and blistered. But that's a price he is willing to pay.
Myers' told MLB.com, "It's more of a feel thing. If I have a batting glove on, I just don't get the same feel. And another thing is, you got to be real manly to not wear batting gloves. So people that wear them, you know, they're not as manly." No argument here. There's something nostalgia-inducing about seeing Myers blast a long home run barehanded, and given his age and talent (and dedication to barehandedness), we think plenty more of them are coming.
If you caught Monday Night Football this season, you might've noticed that Washington Redskins safety Ryan Clark running around with bare hands. Like Berry, Clark tapes his fingers and goes gloveless as a tribute to Sean Taylor, whom he played with during his first stint in Washington.
Clark seems to have no issue snagging interceptions despite his au naturel approach, and his physical play leads us to believe he's not worried about breaking a nail. Clark played many years in Pittsburgh, often in freezing temperatures and brutal weather. But like a true tough guy, he still went barehanded.
Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis is intimidating. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 260 pounds, Gattis is the personification of bad*ss. He's big. He's strong. He has an amazing beard. And his path to the pros was a tale of incredible perseverance, as he overcame substance abuse, depression and rejection. When he was playing ball in Venezuela, he was nicknamed "El Oso Blanco"—"The White Bear."
Gattis's story makes him sound more like a folk hero than an actual MLB player. His mammoth home runs only add to the legend. It's fitting, then, that Gattis hits without batting gloves. After all, Paul Bunyan never wore them. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard had this to say to MLB.com about Gattis: "It could be snowing, it could be 20 degrees, and Gattis is that guy who would be out there with short sleeves." And bare hands, too.
San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle is another gloveless gladiator. Weddle has pulled down 19 interceptions during his NFL career thus far, proving he needs no stinking gloves to catch the ball (seriously, football gloves smell terrible).
Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said this about Weddle to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I love the way Weddle plays the game. Always in the box, not afraid to get down and get dirty and hit people. He'll pick it off—and he doesn't even wear gloves." Weddle also sports an awesome beard, adding to his intimidation factor, and he has a penchant for big hits. Just like Berry, Clark and Taylor, Weddle tapes his fingers. All four of them have been to Pro Bowls.
Perhaps Chad Ochocinco summed it up best with this recent observation:
Any safety that wears no gloves with tape around their fingers will f%*^ you up.
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) October 5, 2014
True that, Chad.
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