I did some work on Paul O’Neill’s glove back in the late 1990s. Every year Paul would receive complementary gloves from Rawlings. As the right fielder he preferred the ProT Trapeze style 12.5” outfielder’s glove. The work I had to perform was to strip out the padding in the heel. Paul liked to place or move over his second, third, and pinky in the small finger digit slot of the glove. His index finger would occupy the third finger slot. With the heel padding removed the glove would fold easily in a way to create an extra large ball receptacle, combining the web, index and second finger into a single enormous web. This technique of use is very common for many ball players.
Actually, the use goes back to the inception of gloves. In the late 1920s one of the foremost producers of baseball gloves, Drayper & Maynard Co., made a special “Walter Lutz” three-finger glove designed specifically with a large small finger slot.
Actually, the third and small fingers are not strong enough on their own to grab or clutch the ball. However, in combination the third and pinky are much more effective and natural.
After the Second World War, gloves began to grow in size and scientifically in design. Most of the gloves produced included lacing between the fingers. The lace would tie the digits of the hand into a single force. A glove design that shifted the fingers over would greatly enhance the web action. Rawlings reintroduced the Lutz design with their “Playmaker” model glove.
The Playmaker was the most popular glove of its day, and was the model for its principle competition Wilson “Ball Hawk” knockoff.
When Wilson introduced the A2000 in the mid 1950s the three-finger design disappeared. However, now and again the design would naturally appear in reincarnations like this one produced in the 1990s.
A good idea never goes away.