What Does Pine Tar Do to a Baseball Bat?

In the world of baseball, pine tar has been a controversial topic. Pine tar is a sticky substance obtained from pine trees used by players for bats. They apply it to the handle of their baseball bats. But what does pine tar do to a baseball bat? What are the rules for its use? This blog will explain the purpose of pine tar and its effects on a baseball bat. It will also discuss Pine tar alternatives for baseball. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it and reveal the truth behind this sticky subject.

What Is Pine Tar, And What Is Its Role in Baseball? 

Pine tar is a sticky liquid obtained by the carbonization of pine wood. As the pine wood converts to coal under high temperature and pressure, a resinous tar is produced, historically used to preserve wood. Baseball players use pine tar to preserve their wooden baseball bats. More than that, they use the sticky, resinous tar to reduce slipperiness and improve the tackiness of their bat. 

Pine tar has been used for decades in baseball since the early 20th century. Initially, it was used to protect hands from slipping off the bat’s slippery handle. Over time, its use shifted to increasing the control and grip of the bat, especially while swinging the bat, thus minimizing the chances of slipping the bat out of the hands.

A secure grip is a key factor in a player’s ability to hit the ball with power and precision, as it helps increase swing speed and accuracy.

How to Apply Pine Tar to Your Wooden Baseball Bat? 

There are a few ways to apply pine tar to the baseball bat. These are:

  • Rubbing pine tar directly onto the handle until it is evenly coated on the entire surface.
  • Use a batting applicator till perfect distribution is attained.
  • Use pine tar-saturated batting gloves or pine tar sticks for an efficient and quick application.

Now the question is how to apply Pine Tar for even distribution to prevent excess accumulation or clumping. Let’s see some of the standard practices:

  • First of all, prepare your bat by removing the previous layer of pine tar using a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol. This step ensures an even and easy application of pine tar.
  • Next, wear batting gloves as pine tar is a sticky substance and could be challenging to remove from hands.
  • Now, rub the pine tar in gentle and even strokes from top to bottom. 

Pine tar comes in two forms: stick and liquid, so the application process is also slightly different.

Stick Pine Tar

  • Directly rub the pine tar stick onto the handle of the bat.
  • To ensure a good grip, consider applying generously.

Liquid Pine Tar

  • Pour a small amount of liquid pine tar onto a piece of cloth or a rag.
  • Evenly spread the pine tar by rubbing the cloth along the bat’s handle. Apply an additional layer if needed.

Do not forget to air dry the pine tar until it becomes tacky to the touch. Depending on the humidity and temperature, this can take a few hours or even one full night. If you play frequently, Pine tar will wear off over time, so you must reapply it periodically. Clean your hands and batting gloves with water and soap to remove any leftover residue when done with the application process of pine tar.

Here are a few things to note while using pine tar for baseball bats: 

  • Players often rub their hands together to ensure even distribution.
  • An excessive amount of pine tar negatively affects a player’s performance, and to prevent any adverse effects, regularly monitor the bat’s handle for excessive build-up of pine tar.
  • Excessive pine tar creates an overly sticky surface, ultimately hindering a smooth bat swing.

Pine Tar and Rules in Baseball 

Some leagues have certain limitations and guidelines on how and how much pine tar is to be applied to baseball bats. For instance, the MLB states that the pine tar should only be applied up to the lower 18 inches of the bat’s handle. This method prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage and ensures fair play.

Players often use pine tar in excessive amounts, which leads to controversies in baseball. One of the notable examples is the infamous George Brett incident in 1983, whose home run was initially nullified just because of the excessive pine tar on his bat. This incident states to adhere to the rules regarding pine tar use.

To maintain the integrity of the game and ensure fair play, one must follow the set rules and regulations; if not, they may be ejected from the current game or may be heavily fined or even suspended. Further disciplinary actions from the league could be taken if repeatedly caught violating the rules. 

Pine Tar Alternatives 

While pine tar is the first choice for most baseball players, there are several alternatives you can use to reduce the chances of fines and suspensions. These are given below:

  • Bat grip tapes – without the stickiness like pine tar.
  • Specialised gloves or grips – to enhance the hold.

Grip tapes provide a good grip, easing players by adjusting the texture and thickness per their preference. Moreover, they do not, like pine tar, cast a messy residue on the bat or even on the player’s hands. Nevertheless, grip tapes do not provide the same level of tackiness that some players consider necessary for their performance, as offered by pine tar.

Learn how to regrip your baseball bat here.

Pine tar, despite the availability of alternative substances, is still considered a popular choice among baseball players for the following reasons:

  • Its tackiness and ability to increase grip and control are considered trustworthy among professional players.
  • The historical importance and traditional relation of pine tar with baseball is another factor of its sustainable fame.

Conclusion for What Does Pine Tar Do to a Baseball Bat?

Pine tar, like wood varnish, is a liquid used to increase the tackiness of the baseball bat. It is responsible for increasing control, swing speed, grip, and accuracy, rendering it a basic factor of a baseball player’s arsenal. To gain optimum performance, proper application and maintaining a balance of pine tar is necessary. Moreover, following the MLB rules and regulations for pine tar ensures a fair and competitive game.

Pine tar, despite many controversies and the availability of alternative grip-increasing substances, is still a trusted material because of the noticeable impact on performance and is also widely used in providing the grip to a baseball bat. Understanding the purpose and regulations of pine tar for baseball experts adds to their information and also increases their appreciation of the game.

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