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Have you ever been watching a Major League Baseball game during the day and noticed many infielders and outfielders wearing sunglasses? You may have asked yourself, “I wonder if pitchers are allowed to wear sunglasses on the mound?” In this article, we will answer this question and dive into some other fascinating things about baseball players and sunglasses.
The official rule for pitchers is that they ARE allowed to wear sunglasses while on the mound. As long as the sunglasses do NOT distract the hitter or the umpire, the pitcher is free to wear them. If the sunglasses give off any type of glare, the pitcher may be asked by the umpire to remove them.
To learn more about baseball sunglasses and this rule, keep reading!
Why do pitchers never seem to wear sunglasses even though it is legal for them to do so?
There are many reasons why pitchers choose to never wear sunglasses. Most baseball games are played at night so there is not much need for sunglasses. Also, even when the baseball games are played during the day the pitcher is never looking directly at the sun. Sure, there may be a rare pop fly hit in the infield, but typically the other infielders make those plays and not the pitcher.
In addition to these facts, many pitchers feel that sunglasses affect their visual depth perception in a negative way. Anything that affects the pitcher’s vision in any minutely negative way is a huge disadvantage for them. Pitchers have to be able to clearly see the catcher’s signs and their target (the catcher’s mitt).
Are there any other options for baseball players that do not want to wear sunglasses?
Yes, there are other options available for baseball players that do not like to wear sunglasses on the field. The most common option is wearing eye black (see Amazon). Eye black comes in the traditional stick that players put on before games. It also is available in removable stickers which avoid the dreaded smearing on the face. Eye black reduces the amount of light reflecting off the face of the player. Many “old-school” baseball players will wear eye black instead of sunglasses and will simply shield the sun with their non-glove hand while catching a fly ball.
More Intriguing Facts about Sunglasses in Baseball
Here is some more helpful information regarding sunglasses in baseball.
- Though it is extremely rare, there have been some instances in Major League Baseball where pitchers have worn sunglasses. Kei Igawa wore them when he pitched for the New York Yankees for a brief sixteen game stint. Igawa complied a 2-4 record and an unimpressive 6.66 Earned Run Average during this time frame.
- The first Major League Baseball player to wear sunglasses on the field was a centerfielder named Paul Hines in 1882! Hines played for the Providence Grays and was a big-time star! Hines not only wore the first pair of sunglasses on a baseball field, but he also won baseball’s first Triple Crown (most homers, runs batted in, and highest batting average) and completed the game’s first ever unassisted triple play!
- Flip up sunglasses were all the rage amongst Major League Baseball players during the 1980’s and 1990’s eras. These sunglasses allow the player to have the shades down when the sun is a problem and the shades up if the sun is not in their line of sight. “Flips” are not as popular as they used to be, but they are still worn by a few players from time to time. Some baseball purists believe that the great Ted Williams was the first baseball player to wear flip up sunglasses. Photos have surfaced showing “Teddy Ballgame” wearing flip ups as early as 1947!
- Sunglasses are most helpful to outfielders since the majority of pop flies are hit to the outfield. Trying to catch a high fly ball with an overpowering glare from the sun can be a scary feeling for an outfielder. Wearing sunglasses helps the outfielders to never lose track of the ball in the sun!
- Though they do not get as many pop ups as outfielders, many infielders prefer to wear sunglasses as well. Infielders often have to react quickly to lightning-fast line drives or hard ground balls. Any glare from the sun would impede the infielders’ vision and slow their reaction time. Even a small decrease in reaction time due to the sun is a dangerous situation for an infielder to be in. There is no way to quantify how many player injuries have been avoided thanks to sunglasses, but it is probably a hefty amount.
- Sunglasses are not only helpful in protecting the players’ eyes from the sun. They also help protect the players’ eyes from dirt and dust that are often flying around on the baseball field.
- Many Major League Baseball players wear sunglasses not just for eye protection but as a fashion statement. Looking “cool” and fashionable to their fans helps boost the player’s confidence level. The old adage of “look good-feel good” applies here. Many players also have lucrative endorsement deals with sunglasses companies which helps them look good while padding their wallets at the same time.
What are the most popular brands of sunglasses in Major League Baseball?
The most popular brands of sunglasses in baseball are Oakley, Easton, Nike, Deduma, Franklin, and Under Armour. Oakley is probably the most popular brand of the whole bunch and they were founded in 1975. Many Major League Baseball players prefer the Oakley brand over all other sunglasses. The Oakley Radar Sunglasses are listed as best baseball sunglasses on lots of online lists and they were made famous by former Boston Rex Sox great David “Big Papi” Ortiz.
All Star Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Bryce Harper has a lucrative endorsement deal with Under Armour. Harper is signed with Under Armour through the year 2026 so we will be seeing him in Under Armour sunglasses for many years to come.