Pine Tar: The Great Debate
At M^Powered, we sell custom-made, professional-quality, wooden bats for baseball players who are serious about the game. We also sell a full lineup of accessories to complement our high-end wooden baseball bats. One of the accessories is pine tar and an alternative bat adhesive. If you are considering applying pine tar to your M^Powered wooden bat, it is wise to know the rules and the history of the substance, as well as the consequences of misuse and how to properly apply the substance.
First, the rules:
Pine tar is legal and illegal to use in Major League Baseball. The Official Rules 8.00 deal with the pitchers and 8.02 deals with the pitcher applying any foreign substance to the ball, which includes substances like spit and pine tar. If pitchers do deface the ball, the umpire should warn the pitcher and umpire can also decide to expel the pitcher from the game. So, pine tar is illegal to use on a baseball, because it seriously alters the way the ball approaches the plate.
On the legal end, pine tar can be used on a baseball bat in the Major League. In rule 1.10, batters can apply pine tar, but only if the substance does not extend more than 18 inches from the end of the handle. The substance can be used to improve the grip. This legal use of pine tar is the reason why so many players, like Victor Martinez from the Detroit Tigers, often have a smudges of pine tar on their shoulders.
Next, some history:
Players like to use pine tar on their wooden bats because the bats can be slippery. Pine tar is a sticky substance that has been used to seal boats, take care of animals’ hooves, and preserve wood. It was used in the medical industry, but the FDA found that it did not live up to the claims that it helped with some skin problems. Now, the most common industries where pine tar is found include the maritime industry and veterinary medicine, and, of course, baseball.
The substance has been used since the prime days of baseball in the 1950’s. Ted Williams, the legendary Red Sox player, applied it to his bat once per week, like most of the other players in the League at the time. In 1955, the 18-inch rule was established and by 1964, only 10 percent of baseball players were not using it on their bats. The 18-inch rule was set so that the baseballs would be discolored or damaged by the pine tar. Some say the rule was originally made not to keep baseball players from cheating, but to keep the balls from being damaged.
Now, the consequences:
Since pine tar is legal to use on bats, the biggest problem comes with applying too much over the barrel of the bat. There have been a few incidents that have resulted in unusual consequences. George Brett, from the Kansas City Royals, was accused of putting too much pine tar on a bat that he used to hit a homerun in a 1983 game. The homerun was turned down because the pine tar damaged the ball. After this game, the only problems with pine tar have been involving pitchers, who have been removed from games and suspended from following games. It is quite common today to see batters put pine tar on their batting helmets so they can get a little extra for their grips while they are at the plate.
How to apply pine tar properly:
When you want a good covering of pine tar, you need to use a Pine Tar Rag, like the one we sell with our M^Powered logo on it. The rag really is not a rag at all, but a piece of quality cotton covered by a cordura shell. When you apply pine tar to the cotton and hold the shell of the rag, you can easily wipe the pine tar up and down the handle to create a quality grip that will let you get more pop out of the ball.
Even though pine tar has a reputation for being an important aid in using a wooden bat, there are other ways to get a good grip. Our M^Powered bat handles can also be covered in medical-grade tape and we also sell a professional grade hand grip that is does not leave the mess that pine tar leaves.
Take a look at some of our products or see the whole list of accessories:
Bat Tar Up