What Does Pine Tar Do?


Quick Answer

Pine tar is used by baseball pitchers to help them grip the ball more securely. However, questions over its legality have risen over the potential for injury and ball manipulation. It can also be applied to baseball bats from the handle to 18 inches upward to improve the batter's grip.

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Full Answer

Pine tar comes from pine stumps and roots. It has a long history of being used as a preservative and sealant as well as a topical treatment for eczema and psoriasis. In baseball, pine tar has been associated with various controversies.

The Pine Tar Game, a 1983 match between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees, saw the nullification of the Royals' home run when the Yankees manager protested that the use of pine tar on the bat exceeded the permitted 18 inches. In 2014, questions rose over whether or not pine tar should be legalized for use in baseball games by pitchers, who use it to improve grip during cold weather conditions. However, not only is it unknown whether pine tar actually improves their grips but the application of any substance aside from Baseball Rubbing Mud onto the baseball is illegal. To address claims that pine tar is needed in certain conditions, Major League Baseball officials are researching Japanese baseballs which have a tackier and easier-to-grip surface.

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