Catcher's gear; the best catcher's mask recommended by pro baseball player; the best catchers glove

Gear recommendations by PJ Pilittere, former catcher and current coach for the NY Yankees. Image by Frank Lauri

Tips and insider info for choosing your best catchers mitt and protective gear, featuring recommendations by PJ Pilittere.

PJ was drafted in 2004 by the New York Yankees and spent 7 years as a professional catcher. He retired after the 2011 season and took a position as a coach in the NY Yankees organization.

Best Catchers Mitts

Things to think about when choosing your best catchers mitt. 
  • Leather Quality. Quality leather is extremely important for catchers mitts. Most catchers do not like when their glove gets too flimsy. Cheaper leather loses its shape and strength, making it harder to catch baseballs. Also, good leather makes a loud pop when you catch the baseball (pitchers love the sound). Quality leather stays stiff longer, making for a longer break in period, but it lasts longer.
  • Break in time. Some gloves come with more shaping/break-in done at the factory before the glove is purchased. This means means the glove will be game-ready faster. Some guys love this. Others, like myself, prefer to break in gloves themselves.
  • Palm protection. Some guys like extra padding in the palm area of the glove, while others do not because they feel the ball better without it.
  • You get what you pay for. When you buy a nice glove it may cost a little more, but it will cost about the same if you need to buy two average gloves because the first one broke down.
  • The Big Four. In the pros, you really only see catchers using Rawlings, All-Star, Louisville Slugger, and Wilson gloves. These models are time-tested and the quality is there to make them worth the higher price. They’ll last longer so you’ll buy fewer gloves in the long run. Also, stronger leather means fewer mistakes in the field.

“Overall, I like how All-Star fits. It’s not too bulky, and it fits the body well. It’s pretty much the standard for catchers gear.” - PJ Pilittere

[learn_more caption="Rawlings Catchers Mitts"]
Rawlings Primo Catchers mitt, glove comparisons in plain english, best catchers mitt

Primo Catchers Mitt

The break-in ratio (% Factory / % Player) tells you if the leather is going to be harder or softer when you pull it out of the box. Some players like to know that the glove is almost game ready when they pull it out of the box (Factory %). Other players like to do the breaking in themselves. They feel the glove lasts longer and is more conformed to their specific preferences (Player %).

Primo Series -$399

  • Rawlings most elite glove
  • Made of Italian calfskin leather (the best leather you can find for catchers mitts)
  • Extra strong laces help give the mitt more durability (15% stronger)
  • Break in is 20% Factory/80% player, so you’ll have to do some work to get it game ready
  • Price is steep but you won’t find better leather on a high quality mitt.
Rawlings pro preferred catchers mitt, Comparing the best catchers mitts pros and cons

Pro Preferred Catchers Mitt

Pro Preferred Series – $329

  • Made of high quality Kipskin leather.
  • Has extra palm protection reducing ball impact.
  • Extra strong laces help give the mitt more durability (15% stronger)
  • One of best catchers mitts on the market.
  • Break in is 30% Factory/70% Player
  • Get it Custom made

Heart of the Hide Series – $209

  • Made of top 5% of steer hides
  • Catcher’s glove comes in several sizes, but the 33″ is exclusive to RG
  • Minimal break in effort needed (50% Factory/50% Player)
  • Nice quality leather at a good price
  • The catcher’s mitt comes with extra palm protection to reduce impact
Answering what are the best catchers mitts by comparing pros and cons, includes professional player recommendations

Heart of the Hide Catchers Mitt

Heart of the Hide Series, Pro Mesh – $229

  • Has mesh on back of fingers and thumb making mitt feel lighter.
  • Overall nice mitt
  • Minimal break in effort needed (60% Factory/40% Player)

Heart of the Hide Series, Dual Core – $229

  • The quickest break in catchers mitt they offer (25% player break-in). Almost ready to go out of the box.
  • Made from Heart of the Hide soft leather.
  • Comes with extra palm protection reducing ball impact.
  • Remember, you’ll sacrifice some durability for a quicker break in.

More detail on each series at Rawlingsgear.com

Where to BuyBaseball Rampage | Rawlings Gear (We like that Baseball Rampage has free shipping AND free return shipping, but if you want an off size, Rawlings Gear has way more selection.  And they do free shipping over $125)
[/learn_more] [learn_more caption="All-Star Catchers Mitts"]

Yankee PJ Piliterre does a product review for best catcher's mitts.  He recommends the All-star 3000 SBT 33 ½ inch glove

All-star 3000 SBT 33 ½ inch glove

All-star CM3000 series

  • One of the most used and trusted, best catchers mitts around. The 3000 series is used by many professional catchers.
  • Exclusive Japanese tanned leather gives it a relatively quick break in and good durability.
  • Black leather in the back is stiffer helping with durability.
  • Each mitt is handmade.

Note: Don’t get the 3000 series confused with the 3100, 3200, or the 3030 series. The 3000 is their “Pro-elite” series and by far the best catchers mitt sold by All-star.
[/learn_more] [learn_more caption="Wilson Catchers Mitts"]

A2k wilson catchers mitt, product reviews and recommendations from the pros

Wilson A2K catchers mitt

A2K – $339.95

  • The only A2K catchers mitt is the Pudge  32.5″
  • Most premium glove model they offer.
  • They use only the top 5% of pro stock leather selection (best quality leather available)
  • Easier break in and very durable.

A2000 – $229.95

  • Pro stock leather
  • Very durable. This one will take a little more work to break in than the A2K.
  • The regular A2000 comes in 32.5″ and 33.5″

 A2000 Super Skin or “SS”- $229.95

  • The “SS” on the end of the model number (A2403 1790-SS) stands for “SuperSkin” which is a synthetic material
  • The superskin on the back of the fingers and thumb is half the weight and twice the strength of leather. It means a shorter break in time and repels moisture.
  • Comes in 33 1/2″ or 34″ models

A2000 Showcase or “SC” – $199

  • The “SC” at the end of the model number stands for “showcase”
  • All showcase gloves and mitts are made for smaller hands.
In total, Wilson has 1 A2k catcher’s mitt and 6 models of the A2000.  You can find them all at Baseball Rampage, or most of them at Baseball Express, or HomeRunMonkey
[/learn_more] [learn_more caption="Louisville Catchers Mitts"]

Louisville Slugger CMCC TPX Pro Flare 32.5 Inch Catcher's Mitt

TPX pro flare series – $199

  • Made of top grade oil-infused Horween Leather.
  • Takes time to break in, but when it is ready it makes for a nice and long lasting mitt.
  • The Catcher’s Mitt in this series only comes in 32.5″

TPX silver slugger flare series

  • Made of top grade oil-infused Horween Leather.
  • Mesh back gives glove a lighter feel.
  • Catcher’s mitt only comes in 32.5″Louisville Slugger SSCM Silver Slugger 32.5 Inch Catcher's Mitt
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PJ Pilittere likes:

“The pocket size is good. Extremely easy to break in, almost game ready out of the bag” – PJ Pilittere

Best Catchers Mask

There are a number of pros and cons to consider when choosing the right catchers mask for you.  Not least of those concerns is safety and functionality.  One important thing to note is that there is some controversy right now about which type of mask offers more protection against concussions, though there doesn’t seem to be any definitive answers yet.  Both styles have been evaluated and have safety standards issued by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).  Manufacturers can voluntarily subject themselves to these standards in order to get the NOCSAE certification stamp.

traditional catchers mask

All Star FM25TI Traditional Catcher’s Mask

1.) Traditional Catchers Mask

The traditional catchers mask is not as widely used as it once was, but it is still preferred by many pro players over the newer hockey mask alternative.

First developed in 1876 as an adaptation of a fencing mask, this style catchers mask has been around for a while.  Some people believe it is better for avoiding concussions because it is designed to come off the face f needed.  This theory says if baseball hits the mask with the right momentum – the mask can fall off and supposedly that the head from having to absorb all that momentum.

2.) Hockey-Style Catcher’s Helmet

The hockey-style catchers mask is a newer invention, and is favored by many pros over the traditional mask.   Some of the pros of this style include better coverage of the face and sides of the head against back swings, and better visibility for certain common catchers moves.  It may also be better at dispersing the force of a square hit to the face.

“I like the Hockey Mask style catchers mask. Vision is maximized, so you never have to take it off for pop ups, bunts, balls in dirt, etc. Plus, it covers all of your jaw for back swings and if you turn your head on a ball in the dirt.”- PJ Pilittere

all-star catchers headgear, hockey mask style

*Disclaimer*  The information contained here is anecdotal and should not be considered safety advice.

Trusted Brands. These are the major catcher mask producers that the pro catchers I play with would feel comfortable using: Rawlings | All-star | Diamond |Easton | Louisville | Mizuno | Under Armour | Wilson

“As a final note, I would caution you that fit is the most important thing to consider. It’s tough to find decent catcher’s gear stocked in the average sports store, so you usually have to buy online. Luckily, most online stores have good return policies, and some even have free return shipping. Be sure to use this feature. If you order something that looks sweet but doesn’t fit right, return it and try something else.” - PJ Pilittere

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