What Happens to Baseball Uniforms After a Game?
When watching a baseball game, whether on TV or in person at the stadium, it’s hard not to notice how crispy clean players’ uniforms look, at least at the start of the game.
On the other hand, if you’ve ever played baseball, you know how easy it is to get dirty.
Sliding and diving on the dirt and grass usually leave nasty stains, that are very difficult to take off.
And yet, ball players come out to every game in sparkly clean uniforms, almost as if they use new ones each time they take the field.
Of course, this is not possible because it would be too costly even for organizations flushed with cash as all MLB teams are.
So, obviously, most uniforms are reused over and over, even though they get very dirty over the course of the game.
So, what happens to baseball uniforms after a game?
Stay with me to find it out!
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What Happens to Baseball Uniforms After a Game?
Even though baseball teams use several sets of uniforms, having a clean one ready for every game is quite a challenge.
With all players on the roster, plus the coaching and support staff, each team needs around 60 clean uniforms for every day.
Considering that during a season, baseball teams only get one or two days off during the week, this means that clubhouse personnel has to wash around 60 uniforms on a daily basis.
To be able to achieve this, the whole process starts almost immediately after the game finishes.
While the players get to go home after the game, for many members of the clubhouse personnel in charge of taking care of uniforms, the work just begins.
This behind-the-scenes work often takes a better part of the night, often in the frantic environment, as the clubhouse staff scrambles to get uniforms ready for the next game.
Washing the Uniforms
Of course, the number one assignment is to wash the dirty uniforms and dry them so they can be used again as soon as possible.
Right after the game, each player tosses the game-worn uniform in one of the laundry carts spread around the clubhouse.
Then, the uniforms are sorted by the type of stain and prepared for washing.
Luckily, extensive scrubbing, which was an essential part of the washing process in earlier years, is now rarely needed.
Instead, clubhouse personnel uses industrial stain removers that are more efficient and easier to use.
Some of those products are used for removing grass stains and pine tar, while others are useful for clay that gets stuck on uniforms.
Bleach is never used as it can alter the uniform’s color.
Once prepared, the uniforms are tossed in the industrial-size washing machines, along with towels and other types of post-game dirty laundry.
After the Washing
Once the uniforms are thoroughly washed, they are taken out of the washing machines to be dried.
Many clubhouse managers prefer to hang them out and leave them to dry naturally instead of using machine dryers as they believe this increases the uniform’s durability.
Of course, this will also depend on how urgently clean uniforms are needed.
When the uniforms are dry, each of them is pressed and carefully folded, to make sure there are no wrinkles and creases.
Then, they’re placed in each player’s locker along with clean towels and waiting for them as they arrive at the clubhouse on a game day.
Repairing the Damaged Uniforms
Each baseball organization also employs a team of seamstresses.
Their job is to work on the uniforms that suffered some damage, but with a little mending can still be made game-ready.
Uniforms often get teared up during the game or they can even get damaged during the washing process.
So, seamstresses also have their hands full and often work through the night trying to mend the uniforms that are deemed to be salvageable.
Another important task of the clubhouse seamstresses is getting the uniforms ready for new players.
In baseball, players are often called up from the Minor League affiliates to the big leagues only on a day’s notice.
This means that the clubhouse staff needs to find the uniform that fits them, and have their number and name sewed to the back of the jersey.
What Do Visiting Teams Do About Their Uniforms?
Obviously, when playing away from home, teams don’t have all the cleaning staff and equipment at their disposal as they would if they were playing at their home stadium.
In most cases, they deal with this by taking several sets of uniforms with them when they go on a trip to play a series against another team on their field.
However, in some cases, the home steam staff, especially seamstresses, will land a hand and help repair damaged uniforms or sew on commemorative patches if the situation calls for it.
How Do the Baseball Uniforms Get So Dirty?
As I already explained, due to the nature of the game, baseball players are often in a position to get their uniforms dirty during various plays on the field.
Below, I’ll list a couple of main factors that contribute to players dirtying their uniforms.
Dirt from the Infield
The main culprit for dirty uniforms, infield dirt, is actually a combination of sand, silt, and clay.
Removing the dirt stains from baseball uniforms is usually the biggest challenge for those in charge of cleaning them.
Almost every position player will end with dirt splotches on their uniforms, whether by sliding or diving into the bases or taking a knee, or diving while fielding the ball.
The job of cleaners is made even more difficult by the fact that plenty of baseball fields feature waxes, dyes, or other exotic amendments mixed with infield dirt to make it look more appealing.
Every parent, no matter if their kid plays baseball, knows how difficult it is to take grass stains out of clothes.
Therefore, you can imagine how stained the uniform of an outfielder can get after spending a good part of the game diving across the outfield grass.
Even fields with artificial grass can cause some trouble for the clubhouse personnel taking care of uniforms.
Although it won’t leave stains like the natural grass, sliding across the artificial turf can easily rip and tear players’ uniforms.
Unfortunately, injuries on the baseball field do happen and there’s often at least some amount of blood involved.
A player can catch the opponent’s cleat, scrape and cut the skin while diving, or collide with another player running in their direction.
All this can leave uniforms with blood stains which are notoriously tricky to take off.
As we all know, baseball games mostly take place during summer, often on hot and sunny days. With all the activity during the game, it’s understandable that players sweat rather profusely.
Sweat can leave stains on its own, but also can make the infield dirt stick to the cloth and make it harder to wash off.
A baseball team’s uniform and its design are a part of the organization’s identity as much as its name or logo.
Therefore, appearing in a clean uniform at the start of the game is a sign of respect toward the team, the fans, the opponents, and the game itself.
However, clean uniforms don’t just appear out of nowhere.
From the moment a game finishes, frantic work behind the scene begins in the race to get the uniforms ready for the next time they will be needed.
The clubhouse personnel that takes care of players’ uniforms and other tasks that are getting done away from the cameras are the unsung heroes of every baseball organization.
The amount of work they do, all while being under a lot of pressure, is truly admirable.
So, next time you see big stars in their crispy clean uniforms, think about the people who make that possible.