The padded baseball batting glove market has a new player. EvoShield, which made its mark by incorporating custom-fitted padding into its shin, elbow and wrist guards, will soon release a high-end batting glove. It will combine Pittards leather—one of the finest materials in the world for baseball, football and golf gloves—with one piece of flexible material on the back of the hand.
Available in November in a two-month exclusive agreement with BaseballExpress.com, the A140 EvoShield ProStyle batting gloves will retail for $60. The agreement will give way in January to wider distribution nationwide.
As with EvoShield's other protective gear, a "shield" in a sealed foil bag will come with the glove. You will remove it from the bag and insert the shield into the glove, where it will mold to the shape of your hand once it's worn for around 20 minutes. When the foil bag is opened, the patented composite shield reacts with moisture in the air and hardens, forming a rigid multi-layered protective barrier.
The ProStyle glove will reach the market a year later than EvoShield founder Justin Niefer had envisioned. Rounds of discussions with MLB and college players about their needs for a padded glove delayed the process until Niefer felt comfortable that the ProStyle's performance and design would impress them. He says, "A lot of MLB and college players were challenging us to make the best glove out there."
The flexible fabric on the glove's backside is called PowerStretch. Niefer found that most batting gloves use leather over the area, which creates a bulky feel. In conversations with players, he determined their preference for a minimalist, low-profile design. So, taking inspiration from football gloves, Niefer incorporated the PowerStretch fabric.
English leather maker Pittards provides the leather for the surface of the glove, although EvoShield's exclusive chainmail grip pattern is used for the middle, ring and pinky fingers. [Niefer says some players like to keep their index finger loose when holding a bat.]
The neoprene wrist wrap was another comfort issue raised by college and pro players. "A lot of baseball players love that compression neoprene feel on the wrist," Niefer says.
Ten MLB players have told EvoShield they may be willing to transition from existing shoe/glove contracts to shoe-only deals so they can wear the ProStyle glove.
EvoShield says that two or three teams from the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 conferences have expressed interest in a team-wide sponsorship involving the ProStyle, while 15 to 20 other schools, representing nearly every major conference, will likely purchase them for certain players. EvoShield declined to name the MLB players or college teams due to ongoing negotiations.
EvoShield's impact on the padded protective gear market can be witnessed on TV every night, as more than 120 MLB players sport the company's products. We'll have to wait 'til next spring to learn how much this glove will appeal to college baseball players.
Kyle Stack is a New York-based writer/reporter who covers health, technology, business and media in sports. He also writes for SLAM, Wired and ESPN. His work can be found at kylestack.com.
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