THE ANSWER. MLB rules forbid pitchers from applying any foreign substance directly to baseballs. Pitchers are allowed to put rosin, a sticky powder made from pine tree sap, on their hands to better grip the baseball, but aren’t allowed to put anything else on their hands because it could get on the baseball.
Rosin is legal in major and minor league baseball for pitchers to use. It is the only foreign substance that is legal for pitchers to apply to their hands to get a better grip on the ball. The primary purpose of rosin is to dry a pitcher’s hands to throw better via a better grip.
Baseball rubbing mud is mud used to treat balls in the sport of baseball to give pitchers better control and a firmer grip on the balls.
Pitchers use the “sticky stuff”, like pine tar, to improve the grip and increase the ball rotation. With vaseline, it’s the other way around, the goal is to inhibit the rotation. Basically, it helps them throw one of the toughest pitches in baseball, the knuckleball.
Atop the mound is a white rubber slab, called the pitcher’s plate or pitcher’s rubber. It measures 6 inches (15 cm) front-to-back and 2 feet (61 cm) across, the front of which is exactly 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) from the rear point of home plate.
Umpires check pitchers’ hands for illegal substances that could be used on the ball to gain an advantage during the game.
Franklin’s MLB® Rosin Bag isn’t just for baseball or softball use - this natural grip enhancement can be used for any sport or activity where superior grip is necessary, from gymnastics to juggling. Commonly seen on the pitcher’s mound, the rosin bag has been a constant in MLB® ballparks for decades.
Per MLB’s news release, it states that a pitcher may not “apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball;” “deface the ball in any manner;” throw a shine ball, spit ball, mud ball, or emery ball; “have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance;” or “attach anything to his hand, any finger or either …
Even during the hot summer months, pitchers do whatever they can to keep their arms warm between innings. You often see pitchers wrapping their arms in towels in the dugout to stay loose. And, of course, many wear jackets when running the bases.
Pitchers’ use of pine tar and similar substances is regulated by Rule 3.01 (3.02) of the Official Baseball Rules. It unequivocally states that no player is allowed to intentionally discolor or damage the baseball by rubbing it with any foreign substance. The pine tar doctoring is also regulated by Rule 8.02(b).
In a news release explaining the new policy, MLB made clear that pitchers found with any foreign substance on their person — from the extremely sticky Spider Tack to the nearly ubiquitous combination of sunscreen and rosin — will be subject to that 10-game suspension, with enforcement going into effect Monday.
Any pitcher who possesses or applies foreign substances will be subject to immediate ejection from the game and suspended automatically in accordance with the rules. If a player other than the pitcher is found to have applied a foreign substance to the ball, both the position player and pitcher will be ejected.
Umpires are instructed to use their thumbs to inspect pitchers’ hands from top to bottom and look for “any unusual looking foreign substances, including suspicious clumps or discoloration,” according to the memo. Sports Illustrated first reported on the league’s new protocols.
The crackdown began as a response to climbing spin rates and lower batting averages. Pitchers for years had been using substances, such as mixing sunscreen with rosin, to get a better grip on the baseball.
It seems like a waste to throw those baseballs away, so what happens to those discarded baseballs? In the MLB, discarded baseballs don’t get reused at all. Discarded baseballs go through a process to get authenticated and sold in MLB shops as used memorabilia.
Tackier substances, such as pine tar or a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, help goose spin rate, which makes a fastball fly truer and a breaking ball bite harder. Substances that make the ball more slick cause pitches to slide around the strike zone and dive into the dirt.
A pitcher rubs the baseball to increase tack and create friction, which gives pitchers more control over the baseball. Pitchers rub the baseball to scuff up a new ball’s cover in hopes of altering its weight or wind resistance.
Skin cancer has been an overlooked danger for baseball players for years. Hall-of-Famers Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt each had skin cancer, and now that MLB is enforcing its ban on sunscreen use among pitchers, skin cancer dangers may only worsen.
Players chewed tobacco to build saliva, and used that spit to keep their gloves moist on dusty fields. Tobacco chewing declined after players agreed in 2011 not to chew it in public. Today, players often chew and spit sunflower seeds or gum. Sunflower seeds are small, and don’t litter the field.
The spitball does not seem to have been outlawed in the Negro Leagues. Since Grimes’s retirement the spitball has been completely illegal in the majors, but some pitchers have been suspected of throwing it. Notable pitchers who admitted throwing the spitter include Preacher Roe, Don Drysdale, and Gaylord Perry.
This area, known as the “three foot lane”, was created for the runner to run inside of on his way to first base, so he would not interfere with players fielding the ball. The only time the runner is allowed to go outside the three foot lane is to avoid interfering with the defense fielding the ball.
Just behind the center of the mound is the pitcher’s rubber, which the pitcher must touch with his pivot foot while preparing for and making the pitch.
What was the answer? Move the pitchers back another five feet – to 60 feet, 6 inches. That’s what happened in 1893. The pitcher’s box was replaced with a 12-inch-by-4-inch slab, and, as with the back line of the box, the pitcher was required to place his back foot upon it.