How to Dress for Playing Baseball
Baseball has been a favorite of young boys, and some girls, for decades. Just like 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.
Major injuries aren’t typically found on a baseball field, especially if you compare it to football or hockey, but they can happen. Part of what a player wears can help to minimize any potential injuries. For me growing up as a young and tall, lanky player 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 in basketball so they could help support my ankles, it did help.
Cleats are shoes that have hard rubber and/or little plastic protrusions sticking out of the bottom of them to help players get traction on the grass or dirt of a baseball playing field. Older players have the option of using metal cleats which is what professional baseball player’s use.
The metal cleats last longer but can cause more injuries too. Metal cleats can get caught on bases, home plate, 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.
Type of Cleats
How familiar are you with baseball uniforms?
Since sliding on sometimes very hard and abrasive infields is required pants are a must to any baseball uniform. Technology has come a long way from my playing days in what kinds of material are available in 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 pants have materials in them that help pull moisture away from your skin and breathe to help keep an athlete cooler. Recalling my experiences as a player, I can’t help being a little jealous of the players now with these comfortable options 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 to get 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.
New Baseball Hats
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.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 David