FASHION BEFORE FUNCTION
Complete disclosure: I am a field hockey player. I also go cycling and dabble in the occasional 5k run. You know what I never think about during those activities? How I wish I were wearing a belt.
Amongst what separates baseball from all other widely popular sports on this Earth is that the players don fine, supple, luxurious leather belts. I don’t know if they’re Italian leather, but that would be my preference.
As the Franklin Sports website says, “…every baseball player needs a belt”. The question is why? If I was sliding along my belly at full speed would I really want a belt buckle harvesting dirt as I went? It’s not that the guys can’t afford a pair of pants that fit properly. You know the uniform isn’t there for function because the base coaches are wearing the same thing. Plus, the hitters are eternally adjusting their sleeves, resetting their gloves… Come to think of it none of it fits very well. Perhaps they really do need to hold their pants up.
If I was playing professional baseball I’d want to be streamlined like a downhill skier; I’d be marginally faster between bases and slightly harder to tag. I’d look ridiculous, of course, but baseball has never let looking ridiculous get in the way.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRADITION
Synonymous with baseball are hats, which they need because of the sun (and merchandise), stirrup socks, which phase in and out (well documented here), and belts. Tradition is the only explanation, one which could be modernized by designers incorporating such an image into the waistband. It would open the game up to a whole raft of vegan fans. If they must wear belts, then how about making them more impressive, with huge club logo buckles that dominate the outfit. If that’s not going to work, then may I suggest suspenders (braces for our British friends), for at least they align themselves with the direction of travel of a sliding base runner.
A single rule exists when men wear a belt: belt color = shoe color. If baseball players could only adhere to this we’d be on our way to a better world.
ON THE SAME TOPIC
Brian O’Nora got whacked on the knee by a foul ball the other night umpiring home plate in Cincinnati. While the players keep adding extra protection when at bat, the umpires seemingly haven’t been following suit. It’s about time they were given full body armor; 100mph fast balls are going to leave a mark.