Do Major League Baseball Players Have to Cover Tattoos?

Do Major League Baseball Players Have to Cover Tattoos?

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Have you ever been watching a Major League Baseball game and wondered to yourself, “Do these baseball players have to cover their tattoos?”  Tattoos are widely accepted by most sports’ governing bodies these days, but what about Major League Baseball?

Do MLB players have to cover up their tattoos?  The general rule is NO!  Players are free to display their respective tattoos because there are no specific rules against tattoos in Major League Baseball. However, pitchers may be asked by the umpire to cover up his tattoos with sleeves if the hitter complains that the tattoos are too distracting.  This is an extremely rare occurrence, but it has happened a few times.

To learn more about tattoos in Major League Baseball and a funny story about MLB Pitcher Justin Miller, keep reading!

What exact reasons would an umpire ask a pitcher to cover up his tattoos?

There are many compelling reasons why an umpire may ask a pitcher to put on sleeves to hide his tattoos.

1.  The hitter complains that the pitcher’s tattoos are keeping him from fully seeing the baseball.

2.  The opposing team’s Manager or Hitting Coach asks the umpire to make the pitcher cover up his tattoos.

3.  Any visual hindrance to the batter results in a huge, unfair disadvantage for him.  Can you imagine trying to hit an exploding 90 miles per hour slider and not being able to see the ball until the very last second?

4.  Along the same lines as point #3, if a pitcher’s tattoo obstructs the hitter’s vision in any way, that is a huge, unfair advantage for the pitcher!  The pitcher is more likely to have lots of strikeouts since the batters cannot fully see the ball.

5.  It is extremely dangerous for the batter have limited vision while at the plate.  For example, his reaction time is much slower which means he is more likely to be hit by a wild pitch and suffer an injury!

Who is the first pitcher to be asked by an umpire to cover up his tattoos?

Justin Miller has pitched in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, and Washington Nationals.  Miller has a very respectable record of 13 wins and only 5 losses as a Major League pitcher. 

However, Miller is more well known for being the first pitcher in baseball history to be asked to wear long sleeves to cover up his heavily tattooed left throwing arm.  People all around Major League Baseball jokingly refer to this as the “Justin Miller Rule” even though no actual rule exists regarding tattoos!

Miller’s whole incident went down in Spring Training of 2004.  Head Umpire Jim McKean ordered Miller to put on long sleeves after a hitter from the opposing team complained that his fully tattooed left arm distracted them from fully seeing the baseball.  Miller’s left arm is tattooed with multi-colored clowns so one can see why that may be a hindrance to the batter.

Do position players (non-pitchers) have to worry about covering up their tattoos?

No, all non-pitchers will never be asked by an umpire to hide his tattoos.  The reason is because there is no unfair competitive advantage gained for the position player by showing tattoos.  The only time a position may have to worry about this is if his manager asks him to unexpectedly pitch due to an overworked bullpen.

The Most Interesting Tattoos in Baseball History

Have you ever wondered who has the most interesting tattoos in baseball?  Here we will briefly describe some of the coolest tattoos in the history of Major League Baseball.

  • Former New York Yankees pitcher David Wells is a bona fide baseball history buff.  Wells proved this to be true by getting a tattoo of the greatest New York Yankee of all-time, Hall-of-Famer Babe Ruth.  Wells sports the tattoo of the Bambino on his forearm.  On his other arm, Wells has a tattoo of his son.
  • Former Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton sported some of the best tattoos in baseball history.  The former outfielder had it all regarding body ink.  Some of Hamilton’s most famous tattoos are subtle flames on his left arm, his high school nickname of “Hambone” on the other arm, and some very pretty looking flowers on one of his arms as well.
  • Former Milwaukee Brewers home run hitter Prince Fielder has some of the most unique tattoos in baseball history.  Fielder has a Korean character tattooed on his neck (OUCH!)!  Apparently, the Korean character on his neck has the name Prince just like himself.
  • Chicago Cubs super slugger Javier Baez has a tattoo of the Major League Baseball logo on his neck!  The tattoo looks good, but the surprising part is that Baez got it before he was even drafted!  How is that for being super confident in your baseball abilities?
  • MLB Free Agent and former Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp has an incredibly detailed tattoo of Saint Michael the archangel.  The tattoo covers his whole arm and is often referred to by tattoo enthusiasts as a “sleeve”.
  • Former Cardinals and Angels infielder Scott Spiezio got a provocative tattoo of his girlfriend Jenn on his left bicep.  The tattoo is definitely a different way to show love for your significant other.  Surprisingly, Speizio has said that the tattoo took 7 full hours to complete and cost him $500.

Related Articles:
Can Pitchers Wear Sunglasses?
Why Do MLB Players Use Wooden Bats?
Why Do Baseball Players Wear Compression Sleeves?

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