Why do Baseball & Softball Players Wear Eye Black?

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Wondered what does an eye black mean? What exactly are they and how do they contribute to the field of baseball? 

Well, let me do the honors of explaining to you, what exactly it is and how it will help you in your performance on the field. 

Let’s get into it! 

What is Eye Black? 

Well, let’s first get to the pressing question that you have going on in your mind. What is eye black? Well, eye black is essentially, those greasy strips of black that players under their eyes. Must have really taken you aback huh? You didn’t think that something like that would be eye black. 

But well yea it is, shockingly! A lot of professional amateur players use it on the field and for a valid reason, in order to diverge light coming to their eyes. So yea, this is pretty great in terms of protecting the glare from your eyes. 

Why Do Baseball Player’s Eyes Black? 

Well, the black paint under the eyes gives a lot of uses to baseball players, which most of you are definitely curious about. Eye black is traditionally worn under the eyes or near the cheekbone and hence the name. It’s worn in a horizontal or vertical pattern. Players usually use something like, a stick of grease, like a petroleum-based product, or adhesive strips with a dark coating. Black under yes believe it or not very common amongst a lot of baseball players. Baseball players with eye black sort of give a sense of unity, a sense of teamwork when wearing this. 

 So I’ll get straight into it. The first and foremost reason, the reason that this is used for a very long time in the baseball game. It apparently reduces the glare. The glare that is produced by bright stadium lights, may hinder your performance. But wearing these will substantially increase them and will help you perform exceptionally. 

The eye black is also supposed to add Visual acuity sort of giving you sharpness on the field. This isn’t scientifically proven as such, but this kind of works psychologically and gives a sense of accuracy and sharpness thus encouraging players automatically. This also comes as a sense of traditionality, paying homage to the past player to walk in their footsteps and perform as well as them or even just to honor the team and how it’s come this far. 

Eye Black also gives the sense of being united as a team. Something that you’d conquer together, as one. It’s a sort of self-expression that players show to their rivals, to show intimidating they can be on the field. And just like I discussed before, eye black psychologically affects players into thinking that they are the most powerful on the field, enhancing their performance remarkably. 

Does Eye Black Actually Work for Baseball Players? 

Well as beautiful as this tradition sounds. Eye black doesn’t have a lot of scientific proof for it. So it’s kind of the middle of high skepticism and like a myth. But indeed does have a psychological effect on players, making them feel one and at power. Sort of as if they are going to war. 

That psychological effect makes them feel like powerful warriors on the field. As if they were to conquer a battle in front of them. It gives a sense of togetherness a lot of players have claimed. Might sound far-fetched to some, but this does indeed happen, making rival teams intimidated by the aura that they produce. Wondering what about softball? Well, for my softball girlies out there, we have two great articles one is about some of the best sunglasses for softball and the other is can you play softball with glasses? Check them out!

Is there an eye black rule for the MLB?

According to the guidelines and rules, MLB players are only permitted to wear a stroke grease or pain under their eye for this. They cannot wear this as a form of decoration, or like a war paint. They are forbidden to do so and only a single line that goes under the eye from the cheekbone is permitted for usage. 

When did baseball players start wearing eye black? 

Maybe not so shocking of a point but baseball players have used eye black since the 1940s and 1950s. This was popularised by a famous team babe ruth back in the day and was then consecutively by many players who competed. The practice further grow when in the 1960s and 1970 players like Willie Mays and Jhonny Bench used them making it sort of a trend to use them, whenever you’d go on the field. This became a trend and then quickly became a tradition for most players who love baseball just as is!


Whether you are a believer in it or not. The eye black tradition is one of the purest forms of paying homage to the players, who performed excellently on the field and delivered with every throw, catch, and swing. But maybe you are not comfortable to wear eye black each time, then there are a lot of options, we have an article suggesting about some of the best Pitcher Sunglasses. Science might prove it to be wrong but the tradition will forever continue! 

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Tessa Reynolds
Meet Tessa Reynolds, who lives in Denver, Colorado. She likes to write about sunglasses, and eye makeup so that she can share her knowledge, and help all the people who need something for their eyes. When she is not writing, you can find her skiing in the mountains of Colorado.