Baseball is a simple sport, and there aren’t many pieces of equipment required for a game. However, some things can help improve functionality when it comes to the equipment.
What we are talking about here is pine tar for baseball bats. Pine tar has been used in baseball for a long time, and it’s something that batters tend to love. First, let’s look at what pine tar is, what it is used for, and the rules surrounding its use.
What is Pine Tar?
Pine tar is a highly sticky substance. You can probably tell by the name that it is a type of tar derived from pine trees. Specifically, this pine tar is made through the high-temperature carbonization of pine wood.
Pine tar is brown or black in color and is very sticky, similar to the type of tar used for roofing and other such purposes. Initially, pine tar was used for shipbuilding.
Notably, it was used as a sealant to make ships seaworthy. So, of course, this substance has to be super sticky for use as a marine sealant. Although not often used for sealant purposes anymore, it has become common as a batting aid in baseball.
Why is it Used in Baseball?
Nowadays, pine tar serves as a batting aid. Hitters or batters will apply pine tar to the handles of their baseball bats.
As you can imagine, this ultra-sticky substance helps improve a batter’s grip on the baseball bat to ensure the bat doesn’t go flying out of their hands. However, this is not the primary purpose of pine tar. In fact, the goal is to allow for a more relaxed grip on the bat.
In other words, you don’t have to hold the bat as hard because the pine tar is doing a lot of the work for you. This relaxed grip, produced by the pine tar, allows batters to make better contact with the ball. It also generally provides for a more powerful and accurate hit.
Pitchers would use pine tar to increase their grip on the ball for pitching. As far as modern times are concerned, pine tar is considered a foreign substance, and pitchers cannot put anything on the ball, although many still do.
Rules About Using Pine Tar
There are a few rules to note when using pine tar on baseball bats. For one, only the first 18 inches of the bat’s handle may be covered in any such substance.
If the pine tar extends more than 18 inches from the bat’s base, it will be removed from the game. If a bat is found to be in violation during or after play, it will be grounds for the batter to be called out.
In terms of pitchers, the rules are pretty straightforward. No player can intentionally discolor or alter the ball with any substance, pine tar or otherwise.
MLB rules also state that pitchers may not attach anything to their hands, fingers, or wrists. So when it comes down to it, pitchers are not allowed to use pine tar at all. That said, pitchers are still known for using it from time to time.
How to Apply Pine Tar to a Baseball Bat
Pine tar can be applied to a baseball bat using either a pine tar stick or a jar of liquid pine tar. Liquid pine tar is not often used, and it’s not easy to find.
Moreover, liquid pine tar is messy and difficult to apply. Therefore, we will discuss applying pine tar to a bat using a pine tar stick.
- The first step is to clean your bat. Wipe it down with a moist rag to ensure no debris is present. Then, use a dry towel or rag to dry the bat. It should be 100% dry and clean before any application.
- Open up the pine tar stick, peel back the paper, and expose the top portion. You don’t need to expose too much at once. A little goes a long way.
- Rub the pine tar onto the bat as desired, keeping the 18-inch rule in mind.
If you want to improve your batting performance, give pine tar a try. As long as you don’t apply the tar more than 18 inches above the base of your bat, it’s legal to use.