Baseball Protective Equipment Buying Guide

Though baseball is generally considered a safe sport, players run the risk of being walloped by the ball, or smacked by a bat in full swing. So in addition to the uniform, most players wear some kind of protective gear. While baseball protective equipment can't prevent every possible mishap, it can provide players with the added confidence to focus on their game and not on the dangers of it. This guide is intended to give you an idea what baseball protective gear you or your child can expect to wear while engaging in America's pastime.

What baseball protective equipment do players wear?

One of the first pieces of protective gear ever to adorn the baseball player is the iconic baseball glove. It's difficult to imagine a time when catchers received baseballs barehanded. But believe it or not, it started out that way. Thanks to one of our earliest ungloved legends injuring his hand during a game, the baseball glove has long since been worn to cushion catches. Baseball players no longer leave safety to chance. Here's a look at some commonly-worn baseball safety gear, followed by general rules. For rule details, please check with your league or organization.

Baseball Cleats

Baseball Cleats Every player has to wear some form of cleats for traction on the field. The youngest divisions of youth leagues are limited to molded plastic cleats for safety reasons. Most high school, collegiate, and professional baseball players have the option to wear metal cleats, but leagues vary.


Sliding Pants Sliding Pants

Sliding into base is one of the biggest thrills of baseball. But it's also a little rough on the body. So some baseball players wear slider shorts underneath their pants for a little extra protection.

Baseball Gloves

Baseball Glove A proper-fitting baseball glove protects a player's most valuable asset, the hand. The baseball glove or mitt has come a long way since Doug Allison of the Cincinnati Red Stockings wore the first one in 1870. Today, there are many styles of gloves to suit players, their levels of play, and their positions. There are many factors to consider when selecting a glove such as size, materials, type of webbing, and pocket. While leather gloves are traditionally preferred over synthetic for durability and break-in, many of today's less expensive gloves feel and perform almost like genuine leather, and are easier to break in and care for.

Batting Gloves

Batting Gloves When up to bat, most players wear batting gloves to protect their hands and improve their grip. While players aren't required to wear them, a great pair of batting gloves not only prevent hands from blistering, they can improve grip. Batting gloves may be leather, synthetic, or a combination. Leather batting gloves are soft and form-fitting; synthetic ones feature a tacky palm area for enhanced grip. The choice is yours.


Catchers Gear Catchers Gear

No position on the field leaves a player more open to injury than that of a catcher crouched behind home plate to field balls aimed at the batter. While we don't normally associate shin guards with baseball, catchers are required to wear them. Aside from the mitt, additional catchers equipment includes a helmet, a hockey-style face mask, mouth guard, throat guard, chest protector, and protective cups for male players. Things to look for in a good set of catchers gear is durability, weight, comfort, and easy of adjusting. Catchers equipment should fit firmly and securely without constricting movements.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses Baseball players spend a lot of time in the sun. Sunglasses provide the extra protection from the rays and glare that baseball hats alone cannot. And that can mean all the difference between fielding a fly ball or failing to catch one, or even getting hit by one. And the best sunglasses for baseball aren't the ones you throw on when you head outside. Good baseball sunglasses won't just protect against the ultra violet rays. They should be ultra-clear for sharp visibility, tinted to reduce glare and enhance depth perception, hold up to stress, and fit comfortably and securely.

Baseball Caps

Baseball Cap Brimmed baseball caps protect a player's eyes and head from the sun, and keep hair and sweat off the face. Most baseball caps aren't designed to protect against blows to the head, although now there are plastic inserts that can be slipped inside a cap for extra protection. Baseball caps come in a wide variety of styles to suit your league requirements and preferences.

Baseball Helmets

Baseball Helmet When up to bat and running bases, most players wear a batting helmet in place of a baseball cap. Whether you're a child or an adult, you risk getting smacked in the head by a high speed baseball or bat. One blow to the head, and you could be out for the season or be dealing with a serious long-term injury. Batting helmets are safety-approved head gear designed to protect players from head injury so players can step up to bat with confidence. Helmets feature a built-in visor to keep the sun out of eyes, and either single or double ear flaps. Some types have built-in chin straps and face guards. Batting helmet regulations vary from league to league.

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What are the general rules for baseball protective equipment?

Little League Baseball (2012 Tournament Rules and Guidelines)

  • The youngest division is prohibited from wearing cleats with metal spikes
  • Junior, Senior, and Big League players are allowed to wear cleats with metal spikes
  • Batters and base runner must wear league-approved helmets
  • Catchers are required to wear league-approved catchers gear
  • Catchers gear includes approved helmet, mask, chest and throat protector, and shin guards
  • Male catchers must wear athletic supporters

Dixie Youth Baseball (2013 Official Rules and Regulations)

  • Metal spikes are approved for players of all divisions
  • Batters and base runners must wear league-approved helmets with or without chin straps and an approved facial protective device
  • Face guards must provide full coverage and be properly installed
  • Catchers equipment includes approved helmet, mask, chest and throat protector, and shin guards
  • Male catchers must wear athletic supporters

High School Baseball (NFHS Baseball Rulebook 2012)

  • Baseball caps and cleats are required; cleats may be metal or molded plastic
  • Double ear-flap batting helmets are to be worn by batters and base runners
  • Helmet, mask, throat and body protector, protective cup, and shin guards are a must for catchers
  • Defensive field players may wear face and head protection

College Baseball (NCAA Baseball 2013 and 2014 Rules)

  • Baseball caps and cleats are required; cleats may be metal or molded plastic
  • Double ear-flap batting helmets are to be worn by batters and base runners
  • Helmet, mask, throat and body protector, protective cup, and shin guards are a must for catchers
  • Defensive field players may wear face and head protection

Major League Baseball (MLB 2012 Edition Official Baseball Rules)

  • Professional players must use some type of protective helmet while batting and running bases
  • National Association League players must wear a double ear-flap helmet while at bat
  • Catchers must wear a helmet while in position

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