Cold weather gear for baseball
As I type this post, the low temperature for this evening is 2. No, that’s not a misprint. For those in the warm states, there is not supposed to be a 7 or an 8 before the 2. Just 2 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to improve dramatically and be six times as hot. 12 degrees. Oh … and I just finished shoveling 6 inches of snow. About 3-4 inches more to come. I love Pennsylvania.
I figured now might be a good time to talk about cold weather gear for baseball players. Actually, this is a very good time to talk about cold weather gear because after the holidays is when winter clothes start to go on sale to make room for spring clothes. You can get some good deals and more importantly, if you wait until the season starts to get what you need, all the good cold weather gear stores provide has either been sold or packed away in back rooms for the following year.
If you venture out to look for gear, keep the following general tips and specific items in mind:
When you look for cold weather gear, go with the experts who know what “cold weather” actually means. Rawlings, Mizuno, and Wilson are great companies if you are looking for baseball equipment but they are not experts in cold weather clothing and accessories.
Companies that specialize in outdoor clothing for skiing (especially cross-country skiing), snowboarding, and even hunting tend to be better at keeping you warm because they are specifically designed for active people in bitter cold weather. Companies like WSI Sports, LLBean, Swix Sport, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Campmor, and Columbia have great stuff that can be used by baseball players to keep warm and more importantly, not lose mobility.
Having played and coached in bitter cold temperature and even snow, I unfortunately have a lot of experience in what it’s like. I absolutely hate cold weather and have experimented quite a bit in order to find the right combination of warmth and mobility.
Here are my suggestions for gear.
Specific Items to Consider:
Hat liner – Companies like UnderArmour as well as biking gear companies sell thin skull caps or beanies that can be worn under your game hat. Keeping your head warm can make all the difference in the world. Especially if you are “folically challenged” like myself!
Football gloves – Because football is played in colder temperatures, the gloves that they wear are generally thicker than batting gloves. To get a feel of the bat, most baseball players would rather use thin batting gloves but in a pinch, football gloves may actually keep some feeling in your hands. If you coach, Swix Sport makes some great cross-country skiing gloves that are warm and allow for mobility.
Tights – As you are well aware, baseball uniform pants are pretty much worthless when it’s cold. Tights for the legs are a must. At least they were for me. Thin running tights or thermal underwear pants in either white or gray (so they don’t show through white uniform pants) are good. I used fleece tights. I’m ashamed to admit how far into the season I’d wear them.
Dickeys – Don’t laugh. Dickeys are a must. Find a color that matches your game sleeves and keep it in your baseball bag at all times. They keep your neck warm (a must to keep me warm) but do not add bulk like a heavy turtleneck would. If you get hot, pull it right over your head and move on. Seriously. Get one or two. Get a team logo embroidered on the front to look even better.
Performance vest – By performance vest I mean a thicker, form fitting shirt with no sleeves. Nike cold weather gear may offer one. UnderArmour may also. My favorite is Inteliskin. They are thicker than just a Nike running tee and much more form fitting. And I mean MUCH more form fitting. If you’ve never heard of Inteliskin, check out their website HERE. I would only recommend their sleeveless shirt for baseball because I found the shirts with sleeves to be too tight for throwing. The basic purpose of this kind of shirt is to keep the heat of your torso inside.
Long sleeves – Everyone has a comfort level with regard to wearing sleeves. I always wore them. Others hate them no matter how cold it is. If you have a good performance vest then your need for real heavy sleeves drops. I recommend that all kids below the college level wear a good set of sleeves to help protect their arms. I practically made them mandatory for all my pitchers. If you are a position player or a coach then wearing multiple shirts (even sleeves) can work. Bad hops to the chest are not an issue when multiple layers are present. Better to lose a little mobility when throwing then to hurt your arm due to stiffness when cold.
Sunglasses – When it’s cold, sunglasses are not just for the sun. Springtime usually brings cold winds as well. Cold winds and eyes are not a good fit. Keep the wind off with sunglasses. Try out different lenses as well. Some are for bright light and others are good for cloudy weather. Experiment and make sure you wear them in practice before trying them during games. It will take some adjusting.
Hand warmers – Keep a hand warmer in your back pocket (back right pocket if you are right handed and back left for lefties). In between pitches a position player can put his throwing hand in his back pocket to warm it up.
Cold weather No-No’s:
- I don’t care how cold it is, no player should ever wear a hooded sweatshirt under their game jersey on the field. This goes for coaches as well.
- No players should wear anything over their jersey during pre-game infield outfield drills. Uniforms only.
- If players wear sleeves, they ALL MUST BE THE SAME COLOR! And be specific. Blue could mean royal blue, light blue, or navy. Pick one and everyone wears that. No exceptions.
Cold weather and baseball are usually not a good mix. However, with the right clothing, a player’s performance should not suffer.
Tomorrow’s post: Throwing with signals