How Baseball Works

By: Kevin Bonsor & Joe Martin

Baseball Equipment

Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Gary Sheffield gets ready to catch a fly ball.
Photo courtesy Atlanta Braves

You need very little equipment to play a baseball game. The essential pieces are nine gloves (one for each fielder), one ball, and one bat. The batter and catcher also require some special protective gear. The following is a list of some basic baseball equipment:

  • Ball - An official baseball is manufactured through a process of wrapping yarn around a cork or rubber center and then tightly stitching a cowhide or horsehide cover over the yarn. A baseball is a sphere that is approximately 9 inches (23 cm) in circumference and weighs 5 1/4 ounces (149 g).
  • Bat - A bat is a solid piece of wood, usually ash, that is 2.75 inches (7 cm) in diameter at the thickest part, which is called the barrel, and not more than 42 inches (107 cm) in length.
  • Batting helmet - A helmet protects a baseball player if a ball accidentally hits him in the head. Some pitcher's can throw a baseball as fast as 100 miles per hour (161 kph), so a player needs to wear a helmet to prevent severe head injuries.
  • Batting glove - Although not a required piece of equipment, many batters wear gloves to protect their hands while batting. Blisters may be caused by not wearing batting gloves. Some players wear these gloves while running bases to protect their hands while sliding into bases.
  • Fielding glove - A glove may vary based on the player's position, but it is typically leather with a webbed pocket, which forms a small basket.
  • Cleats - All ball players wear a particular type of shoe called cleats, which are defined by the spikes attached to the soles. Baseball cleats have spikes near the toe of the shoe, which differentiates it from cleats in other sports.
  • Catcher's equipment - A catcher is the target for the pitcher, so the catcher must wear protective gear that covers the majority of his body. Catcher's gear includes a helmet with a faceguard that is similar to a hockey goalie's mask, a chest protector, shin guards, and a special padded glove. Some catcher's also wear devices called knee savers, which are triangular pads that attach to the players calves and rest his knees even while squatting behind the plate.
Former Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez adjusts his chest protector and helmet.
Photo courtesy Atlanta Braves

With the equipment in-hand, the competitors take the field. In the next section, you will learn the basic layout of a baseball field.