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Ask Dr. Laundry

World Series: Baseball Uniform Research

By Dr. Laundry October 24, 2006

The American and National League are whittling down their teams to determine who will be moving on to the World Series. This brought to mind an interesting piece of baseball uniform research that my friend Bill recently sent to me. Nothing it seems is too trivial to try and gain a competitive advantage in Japan.

This research was reported in Textile Research Journal, Vol. 76, No. 5, 383-387 (2006). The research abstract follows:

Effects of Moisture Absorption of Clothing on Pitching Speed of Amateur Baseball Players in Hot Environmental Conditions

Shin-Jung Park -Department of Fashion Design, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul 110-745, Korea, sjpark[at]skku[dot]edu

Hiromi Tokura -Institute of Textiles and Clothing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Mitsuo Sobajima -Textile Division, Nisshinbo Industries, Inc. Aichi 444-8510, Japan

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the hygroscopic properties of clothing material on pitching speed and some physiological responses in amateur baseball players. The experiments were performed on four male players of a regular high school baseball team and comprised two clothing types with different moisture absorption properties, namely, cotton (Type C) and polyester and polypropylene (Type P). One test session was conducted with seven innings, with a 5-minute rest time between each inning. During each inning the test subject pitched 20 balls with a 20-second interval between each pitch. From the results, in the hot environments, the trained baseball players tended to pitch balls with higher speed and less deviation of speed when wearing Type C clothing, especially in the second session. Type C clothing with a higher moisture regain compared to Type P clothing may have diminished accumulated thermal induced fatigue in the subjects.

Key Words:

  • cotton and polyester moisture absorption

  • pitching speed

  • rectal temperature

  • salivary lactic acid

So if you’re a pitcher, you might want to consider retaining the cotton jersey to keep that mph up on the old heater. Or make sure your opponent is wearing polyester!