Looking back now, there are many ways DL Hall wishes he could alter his major league debut. The performance, for one. The mindset he held going into that outing against the Tampa Bay Rays last month, for another.
And also the glove he wore, a light brown model he used when he first got into professional baseball.
“I was like, for my debut, I’m gonna go back to the old faithful,” Hall said. “But now I wish I wouldn’t have. There’s a lot of things that I wish I would’ve remained myself.”
The Orioles left-hander realizes now that when he took the mound with that understated glove, he lost a part of himself. When he second-guessed his ability in his first start, the 23-year-old prospect only dented his own confidence, leading to five runs against him in 3 2/3 innings before he was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk to learn how to become a reliever for Baltimore’s playoff push.
When he returned to the Orioles last week, it was with a determination to not lose himself. And a part of that meant sporting the bright teal glove that is more meaningful to him than purely a fashion choice. With each glance at his teal-and-orange glove — or his black-teal-and-orange version — Hall is reminded of his upbringing in Valdosta, Georgia.
He used to dream of gloves such as those. Now he has them.
“I don’t come from a big town, I don’t come from a wealthy family or anything like that,” Hall said. “For me, the flashy stuff is a way that I remind myself that I am who I think I am. I try to create that mindset for myself. That’s why I wear my big gold chain. It’s all a reminder of where I came from and how far I’ve gotten.”
The practice began in high school, after he met the owner of WebGem Custom Gloves at a baseball tournament. With that introduction, Hall’s world opened to custom designs, and he created a black and gold one to wear while playing with the Valdosta Wildcats, his high school team. When Hall made All-American teams in high school, he pulled out a red and blue version.
With each one, there was a feeling he’d get: He belonged. And while his first foray into professional baseball after the Orioles selected him in the first round of the 2017 draft featured primarily that light brown glove, he discovered the teal color from Rawlings in 2020. He’s never gone back.
“I like it loud. I like the loud look of it,” Hall said. “But I tell myself every time I use it, I’m like, ‘If I’m gonna use the teal, I’ve gotta throw hard.’ You can’t go out there with a bright color like that and not throw hard.”
In the locker next to Hall’s in the home clubhouse at Camden Yards on Sunday, right-hander Beau Sulser looked over at the two bright gloves in Hall’s hands.
“That’s why I wear an all-black glove,” Sulser quipped. “90, 92 [mph] with sink. I need a plain glove.”
Since entering professional baseball, Hall has accumulated as many as 20 custom gloves. The two main ones he uses with the Orioles are the teal-and-orange edition and the black-teal-and-orange version, with the former matched with white or orange uniforms while the latter is reserved for black jerseys.
The start of Hall’s major league career has been up-and-down. Adjusting to a relief role, Hall struck out two of the three batters he faced Saturday before allowing three runs in his next appearance Monday. It’s an adjustment, but he doesn’t want to turn away from who he is, or what got him here.
So he glances at his teal glove again.
“Just to remind myself, like: ‘Look, you’ve done it. You’ve made it this far. You can go even farther,’” Hall said. “I could never have any of that stuff. Now that I can, I want to be able to remind myself that I did this.”
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