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Seeing a pitcher get a hit and run the bases is one of the rarest sights in all of Major League Baseball. Teams often require their pitchers to spend so much time and effort on perfecting their craft on the mound that they don’t have time to work on their offensive game.
Not to mention, in the American League, they don’t even have to worry about offense at all thanks to the Designated Hitter. However, when pitchers do get a chance to run the bases, fans may notice that they opt to wear a jacket while doing so.
Pitchers sometimes wear jackets when they get on base to keep their upper body — especially their pitching arm — warm while they wait to get back on the mound.
No, this is not a fashion statement. Many pitchers do believe that wearing a jacket while running the bases does indeed give them an advantage on the mound. Let’s take a look at how it can help.
Warm Muscles vs. Cold Muscles
It is common knowledge that muscles perform better when they are warm than when they are cold. This is why it is not uncommon to see players use heating pads for tight muscles.
The warmth loosens the muscles as opposed to the cold which tightens them making warm muscles easier to stretch. Pitching requires constant stretching in the muscles; therefore, it is beneficial to keep the muscles warm at all times.
It is not uncommon to also see pitchers wearing a jacket — sometimes just on their throwing arm — while sitting in the dugout. Even on hot days, some pitchers throw on their winter coats between innings to keep their body and arm ready to pitch.
Pitching is a full-body workout. Running the bases keeps the muscles in the lower body loose, but some pitchers feel as if their upper body tightens up when they run the bases, so they opt to wear a jacket.
Other Reasons Pitchers Wear Jackets
While most pitchers wear jackets on the bases and in the dugouts to keep their bodies loose, others have more superstitious reasons for doing it.
Pitchers are known for sticking to a routine, and for some pitchers, wearing a jacket on the bases or in the dugout between innings is simply part of their routine.
One thing most pitchers don’t like to do is break their routine, and if wearing a jacket on the bases is part of that routine, then they are going to do it regardless of how much it does or does not help.
If you are ever watching a game being played on a hot summer day and see a pitcher wearing a jacket in the dugout or on the bases, you can pretty much guarantee that he is doing so mostly as a superstition.
What are the Rules Regarding Wearing Jackets on Bases?
There are some rules around this matter that are important to know.
Only pitchers may wear jackets while running the bases. If they choose to do so, it must be buttoned. They may not wear the jacket while batting.
Of course, in the Major Leagues, the jacket must be an official, team-issued jacket. At lower levels of baseball, pitchers may be allowed to wear jackets on bases depending on the league’s rules.
It is likely that if jackets are allowed on the bases, the rules around what type of jacket it may be are likely looser than the MLB’s as some amateur teams are not capable of providing team-issued jackets.
At the end of the day, as long as the jacket does not interfere with the gameplay on the bases, pitchers, by rule, are allowed to wear them if they so choose.
Opposition to Pitchers Wearing Jackets
Of course, there are some fans of the game who dislike seeing pitchers wearing jackets on the base paths and think it should not be allowed.
The most common reason that fans are against this is because they don’t like it when pitchers are treated differently than other players, and they don’t like the way it looks.
Like quarterbacks in football, pitchers are sometimes known for being given special treatment by umpires, coaches, and even other players.
Some fans argue that this should not be the case. If other players aren’t allowed to wear jackets on the bases, they don’t believe pitchers should be able to do so either. After all, they are athletes just like the rest of the players on the field.
Others argue that it just looks bad to be at a Major League Baseball game and see someone running the bases while wearing a jacket. They have no problem with pitchers wearing them in the dugout, but on the field, they want pitchers to wear their uniform like everyone else.
As long as pitchers are required to hit in the National League, they will likely be allowed to wear their jackets if they get on base. The only way to please the people who don’t like this rule is to implement the universal DH, but that’s a whole other argument.
Why aren’t pitchers good hitters?
Pitching in professional baseball requires a lot of time and energy. Teams pay a premium for good pitchers, so they would rather their pitchers spend that time working on their pitching and not hitting.
Why can’t pitchers wear a jacket while hitting?
The jackets pitchers wear on the bases are large and puffy, so wearing one when hitting would be unfair because the jacket would make them wider therefore allowing more pitches to hit them.
Why do pitchers sometimes only wear a jacket on one arm?
On hot days, some pitchers choose to just put a jacket over their throwing arm in the dugout to keep it warm without overheating the rest of their body. A few years ago, Under Armour developed a one-arm jacket just for this reason.