Safety and the Baseball Uniform
Baseball has been a favorite sport for young people for decades. As with any sport, there are a few basic things that should be worn to play the game the way it is intended to be played and to keep the athletes safe.
Compared to higher-contact sports, major injuries don't occur all that often on the baseball field to higher-contact sports like football or hockey, but they do sometimes happen. Part of what a player wears can help to minimize any potential injuries. Growing up as a young, tall, and lanky player, I found that ankle injuries happened way too easily. I wasn’t exactly the most coordinated yet (my wife and kids would say that I’m still not), and I could roll my ankle on the smallest pebble sometimes. One of the things my parents did to help this was buying me cleats that were kind of like the high tops used in basketball so they could help support my ankles. It worked.
Cleats are shoes that have hard rubber and/or little plastic protrusions sticking out of the bottom to help players get traction on the grass or dirt of a baseball field. Older players have the option of using metal cleats, which is what professional baseball players use.
The metal cleats last longer but can also cause more injuries. Metal cleats can get caught on bases, the grass, etc., and don’t have any forgiveness in them, so your ankle or knee might get twisted uncomfortably. They are also more dangerous for defensive players attempting to tag a runner, especially if his slide pops a foot up; metal cleats coming into contact with your shin or knees is not an enjoyable experience—trust me.
Since sliding on sometimes very hard and abrasive infields is required, good pants are a must for any baseball uniform. Technology has come a long way since my playing days in terms of what kinds of materials are available for baseball pants.
When I was playing, we had hot and itchy pants. I don’t remember what they were made of, but on a 100+ degree day, they were really unpleasant. Now, are made from materials that can help pull moisture away from your skin and breathe to help keep you cooler. Recalling my experiences as a player, I can’t help being a little jealous of modern players and the more comfortable options that are available.
Styles have changed too. When I was playing our pants went to maybe our middle calf, at best; being tall I just wanted the darn things to stay below my knees. Some players still use this style showing their socks or stirrups but many elect to wear pants that go all of the way to their shoe tops. Some styles even have the pant legs long enough to go over your shoes so they can get caught on the back of your cleats. The first time I saw this, I thought it was a design flaw, but I later realized this was on purpose. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t get buying pants just so you can use your cleats to rip the bottom of them up.
Prices on pants can vary from $15 to $50 a pair and even higher; don’t think you have to get the most expensive pair of pants that you can find. With sliding being a part of the game your pants can take a real beating.
We usually get our son pants in the $25 - $30 range, and we have found that these pants will make it through a season before they start to get too torn up in the knee area. The damaged pants then get retired to practice duty for the next season.
Sliding shorts are kind of like boxer shorts that a player can wear under their pants. They are not a required piece of equipment, but an extra layer between your body and a hard infield can be beneficial if you want to avoid getting scratched up.
We got our son a pair a few years ago, but it wasn’t for protection. Our Little League’s All-Star uniform had pants that were thin, very thin. If we didn’t get him the sliding shorts, he would have been advertising what kind of underwear he was wearing, and we couldn’t have that.
The higher that boys get into the sport, the more important an athletic supporter becomes. I remember being a young teenager and playing in tournaments where the home plate umpire checked you before the game to make sure you were properly equipped. I don’t believe that this happens anymore, but a jockstrap is still something that the guys need to wear, especially as they get older; it isn’t needed in tee-ball for example.
I played for over ten years growing up, and I never wore a cup. I was either at first base or pitching, so I wasn’t a high risk of getting hit below the belt. If you plan on catching getting a cup is a must, no exceptions and it cannot be up for debate.
I have coached for many years, and I have had guys want to catch in games, I always ask if they are wearing a cup. If they didn’t have one, they don’t go behind the plate, ever. They are teenage guys, so they think they are invincible but one foul ball hitting you without a cup will bring any guy to his knees, literally.
A quick warning to any player not familiar with wearing a cup, they can be a bit uncomfortable at first so get used to it before you step on the field. Having you mentally distracted fussing with a cup will be a hindrance on the field as well as probably embarrassing your parents because you keep messing with the cup.
Even though baseball is usually a summer sport, and it can be hot or humid, wearing an undershirt can be considered a part of many uniforms. Jersey’s get just as itchy as these old pants I was describing earlier. The logo or stitching used for the team name and/or uniform number can really aggravate a person’s skin. Even a thin, short sleeve shirt can help eliminate these issues.
If you play in colder areas or participate in winter ball, an undershirt will help keep you warm especially if you go with a long-sleeve one. Pitchers also like to wear long sleeves to help keep their arms warm. Some shirts are also available with just one arm being long sleeve to keep your throwing arm warm.
What would a baseball uniform be without the hats? Hats have been a part of the game for longer than most of us can imagine and have become one of the most common ways for fans to support their favorite teams. They are even so popular that many NFL quarterbacks wear a baseball hat when they take their helmets off; maybe they are a bit envious of baseball players wearing the much lighter hats versus those bulky helmets?
I guess it could be because they usually have a terrible case of helmet hair, but I’m sticking with jealousy and maybe a bit of envy.
© 2012 David
David (author) from Idaho on November 07, 2012:
Nettlemere - We do have jackets, wind breakers, etc. that are featured in the game so maybe we do have a match?
Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on November 07, 2012:
There's an item of clothing in UK shops known as a baseball jacket which I presume has come from your game, but perhaps it's something supporters wear rather than those playing baseball.
David (author) from Idaho on November 02, 2012:
teaches12345 - Glad to hear your family has been involved in the sport for so long. The clothing may have evolved over time but the game is still a blast to be a part of. Thanks for commenting and voting.
Dianna Mendez on November 01, 2012:
Baseball has been a part of my family since before I was born. My uncle coached minor league, my brother played minor league (even for the Air Force), my son played little league. It's something that I have come to admire as a sport. I remember when those suits were itchy. Glad to hear that they are a little more tolerable. Good write up here. Voted up.
David (author) from Idaho on October 31, 2012:
Marcy - Just like any sport baseball uniforms have evolved as tastes change. For me it is all about what works so if a player can play at their best with a newer style that I might not wear myself more power to them. Thanks for the comment and voting.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on October 31, 2012:
I'd never realized why the changes in sports attire and uniforms were made until reading your hub! This is so great to know - and it makes perfect sense. It's interesting to see photos of gear and uniforms over a period of history - they sure have changed!
Voted up and up!