Baseball uniforms have gone a long way since the inception of the game.
The improvised woolen uniforms and the straw hats from the early days have turned, over time, into state-of-the-art polyester outfits.
However, one thing has stayed mostly the same for more than a hundred years.
The home team wears white pants and jerseys, while the away team sports gray uniforms.
And, with some exceptions, it seems that it will stay that way for a long time.
As the game is played on the green grass and red dirt or clay, this hardly seems practical.
So, why do baseball players wear white pants?
Below, I go into detail about how this tradition came to be and how it has survived for so many years.
Why Do Baseball Players Wear White Pants?
If you’ve ever just glanced at an MLB game, you’ve certainly noticed that at least one of the team is wearing a white uniform, including the pants.
Of course, by the end of the game, the white color is often covered with grass, dirt, or sweat stains.
As I mentioned, white pants in baseball have a long history and are a big part of the game’s tradition.
Still, besides tradition, there is some practical motivation for wearing them.
The main reasons are to tell the home and away teams apart, for their own comfort, and to avoid confusion on the field and help them focus.
Distinguishing Between Home and Away Teams
Traditionally, the home team in the MLB wears the white uniform, while the away team’s unis are mostly gray.
This tradition dates way back to 1882 when the league introduced the rule designating the different colors of the uniform for each position on the field.
However, the rule also stipulated that all players will wear white pants, belts, and ties. Eventually, the rule was discarded but white pants remained.
Besides the obvious benefit of being able to tell one team from another, the white/gray uniforms became the tradition for another practical reason.
In the early days, visiting teams rarely had access to the laundry facilities. So, they were forced to wear the same unwashed uniforms throughout the road series.
The darker color helped hide the stains accumulated on the uniforms.
On the other hand, home teams were able to wash their uniforms, including the pants, after every game.
More Comfortable in the Hot Weather
Nowadays, ballgames are rarely played in the daylight, with most of the scheduled matchups taking place in the evening.
However, in the early days, before the stadium lights, all games were played during the day.
As most of the baseball season happens in the summer, it often meant that the players had to take to the field under the scorching hot sun.
And, this leads us to another reason for wearing white jerseys and pants.
It’s a well-known fact that white and other light colors reflect the sunlight.
On the other hand, darker colors absorb the heat, causing discomfort for players wearing dark-colored uniforms.
By wearing white, players sweat less and feel much more comfortable on the baseball field.
Less Distraction on the Field
Throughout baseball history, there were many attempts to introduce more colorful, flashy uniforms.
However, many players, and fans, as well, complained that these uniforms, while maybe stylish, distract them and hinder their ability to concentrate on the game itself.
The uniformity of the baseball pants and jerseys allows all participants to focus solely on the game without any distracting elements.
This is especially important for the players who often have to react in less than a second to the event they may have only caught with a corner of their eye.
In time, baseball mostly got rid of all the unnecessary fancy elements from the uniforms, leading to the simple and clean-looking gear we see today.
Why Do Baseball Players Wear Long Pants?
Unlike players in most of the other major sports, baseball players don’t wear shorts.
Instead, they’re out in the field wearing long pants, which have been a mandatory part of a baseball uniform starting with the game’s beginnings.
This may seem a bit weird, considering that baseball is played outdoors and mostly during the summer.
The number one reason for wearing long pants in baseball is protection.
First of all, long pants protect players’ legs from starting up while diving and sliding. Sliding wounds are not only painful but very difficult to heal.
In addition, long pants provide protection when a runner accidentally puts his cleats into the fielder’s leg.
As some players wear metal cleats, this can lead to serious injuries, and long pants help decrease the risk at least a little bit.
What Do Baseball Players Wear Under Their Pants?
While long pants offer some level of protection, it’s always good to have some more.
For that reason, a lot of players wear sliding pants under their baseball pants.
They’re not a required part of the equipment, but do offer an extra layer of protection between a player’s body and the hard infield.
The tight is much less likely to get scraped when wearing these underpants.
Another piece of protective equipment often worn under the baseball pants is an athletic jockstrap combined with a protective cup.
They can be a bit uncomfortable until you get used to them, but they’re a must, especially as you get older.
A foul ball flying at a great speed can cause serious injury to genitals if they’re left unprotected.
As MLB teams try to find more sources of revenue, most of them now feature alternate uniforms besides the traditional whites and grays.
However, they’re mostly reserved for special occasions, such as Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, or celebrating some other worthy cause.
The classic uni combination is still the standard for the better part of the season.
White uniforms may seem boring to some and could be a pain to clean, but they’re ingrained in baseball tradition.
And, as we know, baseball cares about tradition more than any other sport.
White pants also bring some practical value to the players and help them in more ways than one.
For all these reasons, they likely won’t be going away any time soon.