Baseball is a great sport that has spread across the globe. From Major League Baseball in America to the World Baseball Classic that showcases teams from different countries made up of the world’s best players, baseball continues to gain more fans and more kids are taking up the game each year.
If your child is looking to start playing, or you’re looking to join an adult league, you’ll need the proper equipment. While you don’t need much to play baseball, there are key items that you need to pick up before you walk onto the baseball diamond.
Players usually have to have their own equipment when joining a league unless you’re told otherwise by your coach. Since a lot of your equipment has to fit you as an individual, it’s hard to share things with other players or use a friend’s gear so it’s best to make sure you get your own and that it suits your preferences and needs.
You should have your own baseball bat that meets your league standards. Depending on the league you’re in you’ll need either a hollow aluminum bat or a solid, rounded wooden bat. There are also composite bats available that are wooden bats with a stiff metal rod inside of it. If using a wooden bat, it’s usually made from ash wood, maple, or bamboo and should be the proper weight for you to swing around easily (they come in various weights to suit all sized players).
You’ll also need a baseball glove, sometimes called a fielding glove or a mitt. These come in different sizes so you’ll need to find one that fits you properly. Obviously, you’ll also need to make sure you pick the proper glove based on whether you’re right handed or left handed. Fielding gloves are usually made of leather and feature a webbed pocket that forms the basket of the mitt.
Besides fielding gloves, there are also specific gloves for specific positions. Mainly, these are the catcher’s mitt and the first baseman’s glove. A catcher’s mitt is wider than normal fielding gloves and the fingers are connected. There is also additional padding in these mitts as they need to withstand harder throws from a pitcher. The first baseman’s glove is slightly wider and a little longer than the normal mitt. Like the catcher’s glove, the fingers are connected and it is more rounded. There is also additional padding in this mitt.
In order to play baseball, you have to have a pair of cleats. These are running shoes with spikes on the soles and usually near the toe. These spikes are usually made of metal but are sometimes made from rubber, especially for shoes made for younger players. The spikes near the toe are one of the main differences between baseball cleats and those used for other sports. Cleats allow you to dig into the ground while running so you won’t slip on dirt or grass while running the bases or fielding balls.
This protects the player’s head while at bat since it’s possible for a pitch to go wild and strike the batter. The helmet is made of strong plastic and features an ear flap to cover your ear that faces the pitcher. There is also foam padding inside it to absorb any impact. There are some helmets that have ear flaps on both sides. This is great for switch hitters who bat both lefty and righty and can save money for coaches buying for a team instead of worrying about buying more helmets to accommodate all of the players. Note, while some children’s leagues may provide the players with batting helmets, there are some instances where you may have to provide your own.
These aren’t necessarily required, many players prefer to use batting gloves to protect their hands and grip the bat more securely when at the plate. They can also protect your hands when sliding while running the bases. These are fabric gloves that are meant to fit tight to your hands. They can have rubber grips on the palms and sometimes have mesh sections to offer better air flow.
If you or your child is a catcher, you’ll need more equipment than other players. Some children’s leagues might provide you with this equipment, but there may be times where you have to purchase your own. Since a catcher is constantly handling pitches, they need extra protection in case throws go wild. Catchers need a catcher’s helmet complete with a faceguard, a padded chest protector, shin guards, and the catcher’s mitt that was mentioned earlier. For additional protection, you may want to invest in knee savers that give your knees some comfort while crouching behind home plate. It should be noted that while modern catcher’s helmets have the facemask attached, the more traditional style is to have a catcher’s helmet (a backward batting helmet without the ear flap) with a separate facemask that is put on over the helmet.
Uniform and Accessories
If you or your child is playing in a structured league, your uniform will be provided as it’s usually included in your registration fee. However, if you’re just playing with friends and have no real structure in terms of a league, you need to have the proper attire to play the game.
In the instance that there is no uniform provided to you, you’ll need a baseball cap to shield your eyes from the sun, a t-shirt that fits properly (you want to be able to move comfortably), and pants that fit snug enough that you can run in. They should have elastic at the ankles of the pants as loose pants legs can get caught on your cleats and cause you to trip and fall.
Besides your uniform, there may be other clothing items and accessories you want to purchase for practice or to wear during the game. Sliding shorts are good to wear during practice. These are padded shorts that can protect your thighs while sliding into the bases. These can be worn under your uniform as they usually have a built-in pocket for a protective cup and offer great protection. As far as accessories go, sunglasses are a good idea since sun glare can cause a problem on the field.
Female baseball players may be required to wear a pelvic protector. This is a piece of equipment that is supposed to protect females from any type of impact during a game.
Male baseball players have to take some additional precautions when it comes to protection. Most players choose to wear a jockstrap as well as a protective cup when playing baseball. Also known as an athletic support, a jockstrap is an undergarment that is meant to support a male’s genitalia while playing sports by keeping everything close to the body. There is also a pocket for a protective cup. A baseball cup is a hard plastic insert with flexible sides that protects a male player’s genitalia from impacts that can happen during a game. These are usually required by leagues in order to maintain the safety of all players.
Team and Field Equipment
While players are responsible for most of their own equipment, necessary field equipment includes:
- Baseballs: spherical balls around 9 inches in circumference weighing around 5 ounces. They are rubber-centered balls wrapped in yarn and covered in either cowhide or horsehide.
- Bases, pitching rubber, and home plate: if you play on a permanent field, these may already be on the field. However, this isn’t always the case. If there aren’t any present, leagues or teams will need three bases (canvas bags) to make up the infield, a rubber pentagon-shaped plate for home plate, and a rectangular pitching rubber for the pitcher’s mound.
- Pitching machine: some children’s leagues use pitching machines instead of live pitchers while other leagues have these machines just for practices. These are machines that deliver pitches at various speeds and in different motions to help batters learn how to improve their batting.
- Baseball doughnuts: these are weights that slip over a baseball bat to help batters warm up before stepping up to the plate. They are meant to condition a player’s swing to help them improve their swinging speed.
In general, it doesn’t take a lot to properly equip a baseball team or an individual player. If you or your child is looking to take up the sport on a competitive or recreational level, be sure to first find out what the league or coach will provide before going out to buy anything. Once you know what you need, you can pick up all additional items. Be sure to get things that fit you or your child properly so there is no discomfort while playing.