There's something about keeping one finger outside of the glove that just feels right to some baseball players.
Maybe it's the extra padding it puts between a speeding ball and their index finger. Maybe it just feels more comfortable for them. Or maybe they just feel like it lets them keep a finger on the pulse of what's going on in the game.
Whatever the reason, it's not uncommon at all to see a player at a game with a finger sticking out. As baseball gloves have continued to evolve, it's now become such a normal sight that many people don't even think twice about it.
So why do some players keep a finger sticking out of their glove? Let's try to put a finger on why this trend has become so popular.
Position Makes All the Difference
Leaving a finger out is much more popular for players in certain positions. For some positions, keeping a finger sticking out can actually—in theory—reduce the risk of a finger injury. For other positions, it would drastically increase the risk. We're not pointing any fingers, but we think you can figure out which positions we're talking about.
If you've ever played baseball, you know that wear and tear on your hands is just part of the game. Infielders and catchers are constantly taking heat off the ball, and they need all the protection they can get.
Keeping a finger out (behind) a baseball glove can add more material in between the ball and their skin, which can help reduce the sting of taking constant hard-hit balls. (This is usually going to be the index finger, since it's the one most likely to take the brunt of the impact from the ball.)
On routine plays, most infielders don’t catch the ball in the pocket, they catch it on their palm. This allows them to transfer the ball to their throwing hand more quickly. By catching it on their palm, they can avoid having to readjust their grip on the baseball, which saves valuable time.
Keeping a finger outside allows infielders to push down on the back of the glove with it, helping to keep their glove wide. If the glove isn't wide, it's more difficult to scoop up a ground ball.
Some infielders even choose to wear their baseball gloves with two fingers (ring finger + pinkie) in the pinkie stall, and their index finger outside the glove!
Outfielders, on the other hand, tend to wear their gloves with all fingers inside. This is because they have to do a lot of running and diving, and they need to make sure that their gloves (and fingers) are secure. Keeping a finger out would increase the risk of losing the glove, or worse, injuring a finger.
As you can see, there are a few reasons why baseball players might keep a finger out of their glove. It could be for extra protection, or an attempt to get better control of their glove. Or, it might just be something that feels comfortable and natural to them. Either way, it's a common sight in baseball.
So if you see players keeping one finger out of their glove, don't be too surprised. It might not seem like much, but that extra bit of padding or extra bit of control can make a big difference.
While there is no definitive answer as to whether or not an exposed finger provides an overall advantage, it is clear that many infielders believe that it does. And it's hard to deny that it can offer some benefits in terms of padding for the finger that deals with the most impact.
The next time you're at a game, take a look at the players' gloves and see how they're positioned. Then, the next time you're pulling on your glove, try leaving a finger out and see how it feels.
The best way to wear a baseball glove is the way that is both safest and feels most comfortable to you.
Many players find playing with the finger inside the glove is much less comfortable. But if you're not comfortable leaving your finger sticking out, don't worry—there's no rule saying you have to do it. Play ball!