A guide to baseball equipment
There are three basic pieces of kit required to play baseball: the baseball bat, the ball, and the fielder’s glove or ‘mitt’. However, should you become more involved in the game of baseball, you may look to pick up some other specialised equipment as well.
The baseball bat
Baseball bats are used to strike the ball and are either made of a springy wood such as ash, or are made of aluminum. Aluminium bats tend to be used by youth leagues as they are easier to swing than wooden bats, making them perfect for early development. The rules of baseball state that a bat may be no more than 2.75in (7cm) in diameter and no more than 42in (107cm) in length.
The ball is usually white with red lacing. It has a cork centre wrapped in layers of rubber and string and is covered by pieces of leather that have been tightly stitched together. A baseball measures about 9in (23cm) in circumference and weighs around 142 grams. The average baseball has 216 stitches or 108 double stiches. The baseball materials may alter slightly depending on whether it is a practice or match ball, indoor or outdoor ball and if it is used in a pitching machine.
The baseball mitt
The mitt or glove is used for catching. It is worn on the opposite hand to the player’s strong throwing arm. Mitts can be of different shapes to suit the player’s defensive position. Some players prefer an open webbing structure while others prefer them more closed. Each defensive player, including the pitcher, wears a fielder’s glove. It is important to choose a glove that fits your hand but is also easily adjusted to give you a secure fit. The other thing that you should remember when trying on a potential glove is if you wear a batting glove when playing, the mitt should be big enough to fit over the batting glove so you can quickly put on your mitt during games without having to remove the glove.
Other baseball equipment
As you become more involved in the game, you may wish to buy specialist clothing for improved performance and added protection. Such items of specialist clothing include:
- Cleated or studded shoes for added grip.
- Protective helmets for batters.
- Special protective gear for catchers who receive the ball from the pitcher, including a helmet, a cage-like face mask, a padded chest protector and shin guards.
Health and fitness benefits
Playing baseball has a number of health and fitness benefits, including the following:
- Improves upper body strength, notably arm muscles.
- Develops leg muscles with the short bursts of sprinting required.
- Boosts the flexibility of feet and hands.
- Improves cardiovascular fitness through running around the bases as a hitter and covering distance when fielding.
- Improves hand-eye coordination.
- Develops mental focus and concentration.