While baseball fans watch their team play, many focus on the score. One thing that is not often considered is the equipment used in the game. Brothers, catchers, and Racine-area natives Lee and Jason Jaramillo have experienced the pain that catchers have game after game of the impact a hard ball is pitched.
“If you catch it right, it will get stung,” says Lee Jaramillo, “That’s just where the hand fits in the glove. So if you catch it right, you’ll get it on the index finger and the base of the finger and it really does sting, especially when it’s cold out.”
But a new piece of equipment, developed by the Jaramillos, now offers catchers the promise of a less-painful time behind the plate.
Jason, currently a catcher for in Houston Astros system, inspired the new equipment. Lee Jaramillo says his brother originally worked with trainers who would cut up gel inserts and put them in his inner glove. However, it did not work; the gel pieces slid around and they needed to be put back in place.
Lee says that there are manufacturers and designers trying to create gloves with more padding, but most of the time the padding become too restrictive for the hand to move around.
Three years in the making, the brothers created Forceout, a company that designed and now sells the glove. Originally, the glove had one customer in mind - Jason. But as baseball players found out about the product, it's found its way into an increasing number of professional clubhouses. Lee believes Jason's credibility is a selling point with fellow pros.
“When we’re designing this glove, we want the least amount of material possible,” says Jaramillo, “First of all, you want to take care of what really gets beat up. After that, you really don’t need anything else on the rest of your hand.”
The gloves look similar to a batting glove, up to a point. They're designed to only protect fingers that would get hit, so only the index finger and half of the thumb are covered. The middle finger, ring finger, pinkie, and half of a thumb are free. The gloves are made of leather from the United Kingdom, used for many sports products.
Lee Jaramillo, played ball at UW-Milwaukee in the Brewers minor league system, took on the challenge of designing the glove, sourcing the material, and marketing it. That last challenge was aided by his marketing degree at UWM, and time spent in the marketing office with the Milwaukee Brewers. But it has still been a learning experience for Jaramillo, whose other job is in commercial real estate in Racine.
Though he'll never make the Baseball Hall of Fame, Lee Jaramillo says he's glad the work he's doing could have a legacy in the game he loves.
"When I started researching, I found out there was a real affliction with [hand injuries]. Knowing that we could help high school and college age kids prolong their careers, it feels good."