Unlike their counterparts in NFL, NBA, or NHL, baseball players can often be seen wearing chains around their neck.
If you’ve been closely following MLB over the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed that this trend is on the rise.
Right now, the majority of baseball players wear some kind of neck jewelry during the games.
This leads to many people wondering why do baseball players wear chains, especially considering that we don’t see the same in other major sports.
Luckily, baseball is not a contact sport, at least not to the degree of football, basketball, or hockey.
So, chains don’t cause any significant safety and health concerns.
And although some of the fans, especially those from the older generation, disagree with the chain-wearing craze, it seems that this trend is here to stay.
Why Do Baseball Players Wear Chains?
Among baseball players, wearing chains around the neck is nothing new. However, until recently, most players wore their jewelry tucked under a shirt.
For example, Derek Jeter was known to always wear a black diamond chain under his jersey.
Still, the design of baseball uniforms and the nature of the game allow players to just let their chains hang out.
The trend started with big stars, such as Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, but it spread like a wildfire throughout the baseball community.
So, why do baseball players wear chains?
The shortest and the simplest answer is – because they can.
The League has no rule explicitly prohibiting players from wearing one or multiple chains around their necks on the baseball field.
Even if they tried to enforce such a rule, the MLB players’ association would likely immediately rebuff any proposal of that kind as an attempt to restrict players’ right to express themselves.
If we look a bit deeper, reasons for carrying and displaying neck jewelry are mostly personal and differ from player to player.
Still, these reasons can be grouped into a few major categories.
Most players wear neck chains for a simple reason. They make them look cool. Or, at least, they think so.
Most of the athletes in the MLB earn a decent amount of money. A lot of them are even millionaires.
So they can easily afford to buy the most expensive pieces of jewelry manufactured by the world’s most respectable masters.
The majority of chains we see in baseball are made of gold and often encrusted with diamonds.
Besides being expensive, this jewelry is often seen as a personal style statement and a way for players to express themselves.
A fair share of players will admit that it also adds to their confidence on the field. In a sport as competitive as baseball, a bit of cockiness is always useful.
The most popular piece of neck jewelry among the players who wear it for style is the simple gold chain.
However, these chains are simple only by name as they’re usually very thick and expensive pieces with interwoven designs.
A lot of baseball players wear a neck chain for religious reasons.
Plenty of MLB athletes are deeply rooted in faith, particularly those coming from Central America.
The most popular piece of jewelry among them is a simple gold chain with a cross.
You’ll often see players kiss the cross before they enter the baseball field or as they hit the batter’s box.
As expected, these chains are usually more modest, smaller, and lighter than expensive items worn by other players.
In addition, MLB prohibits the use of very large crosses on the field.
This is because they can be potentially dangerous for players diving to field the ball.
For a group of players, their neck chains hold a sentimental value. Some have chains they received from their loved ones and wear them as a source of motivation on the field.
A lot of these jewelry pieces feature pendants with symbols of meaningful significance.
The best example here is 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts, currently of the Dodgers. In every game, Mookie wears two pieces of neck jewelry.
One is the large golden chain he got as a present from his late father when he got drafted to the Red Sox.
As he said, it helps him keep the memory of his dad. The other one is a simple and cheap acrylic necklace with a plastic baseball and bat pendant hanging from it.
It was a gift Betts received from a 13-year-old kid during the 2018 spring training.
The Dodgers’ star has stated numerous times how much both of these necklaces mean to him.
Not so long ago, in the mid-2000s, the MLB was caught by the Phiten craze.
Numerous players, including stars such as Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, and Justin Pedroia have added the Phiten necklaces to the list of their must-have accessories, stating they help them perform better on the field.
The Japanese manufacturer claimed that these nylon-coated titanium-infused chains maximized the strength and energy of whoever was wearing them.
The active substance, known as Aqua-Titanium, allegedly worked like small magnets realigning the biological electrical fields in an athlete’s body.
You can believe this pitch or not, but the fact is that a huge number of players wore this item around their neck.
Whether they honestly bought into it or were just working off marketing deals is a different question.
With the longest tradition of any other major sport, baseball is often a very conservative environment.
Players are discouraged from breaking the unwritten rules and frowned upon when stepping outside their presumptive lanes.
Neck chains offer players a rare chance to express themselves in this, often rigid, surrounding.
It helps them show emotion, exhibit their personality, and stand out among other players.
In this way, neckwear is similar to different styles of bills, baggy pants, earrings, or bracelets.
Plus, flashy jewelry and a cool appearance are a great way to attract younger fans to the sport.
This became particularly important in recent years, as the new generations are rapidly losing interest in baseball.