Why Do Baseball Players Wear Hats?

Why Do Baseball Players Wear Hats

The baseball cap, worn by virtually every baseball player, has become an icon of the sport. Not only does every defensive player on the field wear hats, but now many fans do as well. So, why do baseball players wear hats? Keep reading to find out.

Are Players Required to Wear Hats?

There is no citation in the MLB rulebook that directly states that players must wear hats. However, there is a rule stating that all players on a specific team must have matching uniforms, but there is no section that specifically addresses hats. Despite there not being a rule directly requiring players to wear hats, every baseball player still wears one to match the rest of the team. This is most likely due to tradition, as hats have been worn by players since 1849. Beyond tradition, the fact is that wearing a baseball cap provides a player with a number of on-field advantages that would be lost if the hat was not worn.

Benefits of Wearing a Hat in Baseball

There are quite a few advantages to wearing a hat while playing on the baseball diamond, with the biggest one being blocking out light. Whether players are on the field in the burning sun or under the bright lights of a stadium when playing at night, sources of bright light can be a major obstruction to the players’ vision.

By wearing the baseball hat, players can effectively block out bright lights and better track the ball after a batter hits it. This makes it much easier to locate the ball in the air and make a defensive play. The first recorded usage of hats was a direct effort to help players deal with the sun in the earliest days of baseball.

Another advantage of wearing a hat is that it absorbs sweat, which would otherwise collect on the player’s face while out in the sun. Along the lines of keeping objects out of a player's eyes, a hat can also help corral a player’s hair if it is unusually long or cumbersome. 

Another unexpected benefit of wearing the hat is a sense of team unity. By wearing the same team uniform, down to the hat, players feel like they are truly representing the team and something bigger than themselves.

When Did Players Start Wearing Hats in Baseball?

The first recorded use of baseball caps by baseball players was by the New York Knickerbockers in 1849. The first baseball hats barely resemble their modern forms beyond a crown and a visor, and were actually made out of straw. Despite its humble beginnings as a way to provide shade to players' eyes, baseball hats caught on quickly. Soon, wool began to be used in hat production and the hat took on its modern look in the early 1900s. The first modern style of baseball caps can be traced back to 1954 and were designed by New Era, who is still the MLB’s hat provider today.