As you might know, baseballs travel fast enough to break bones. Because of that, protective equipment is needed, and baseball players wear various them depending on the position played.
However, protective gear is hidden from our sight under the player’s clothes. This raises the question of whether baseball players wear protective cups?
Generally, most baseball players wear cups depending on the fielding position played. Nearly all catchers wear protective cups; most pitchers and infielders wear them too; however, virtually all outfielders play without cups.
That being said, it goes well with the saying that approximately 25% to 1/3 of baseball players don’t wear cups. That’s because there are nine fielding positions where three are outfielders.
Now you know that baseball players wear cups, let’s take a closer look at why they should wear cups and what can happen if a direct hit happens without one.
- Why Should Baseball Players Wear Cups?
- What Age Should Baseball Players Wear a Cup?
- Do MLB Players Have to Wear Cups?
- Do Female Baseball Players Wear Cups?
- Do Baseball Umpires Wear Cups?
- Why Some Baseball Player’s Don’t Wear Cups?
- What Do Baseball Players Wear to Protect Their Groins?
- My Favorite Baseball Equipment
Why Should Baseball Players Wear Cups?
Wearing a protective cup is extremely important, especially as an infielder, because the chance of getting a baseball, bat, cleat spikes, or something else to the groin area is generally high. I have some statistics and scary stories to share to demonstrate further the importance of wearing a cup as an infielder in baseball. I’ll start with the statistics.
One study made with the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) shows 240 serious genital injuries caused by baseball between 2002 and 2010. The injuries only increased yearly within that timeframe, so it’s logical to assume that the number is ever higher nowadays than back then.
Still, 240 injuries aren’t that much when you compare the numbers. However, when you think about a serious genital injury that happens during a sport that you or another player loves, it’s a heavy price to pay for not wearing a protective cup or a pelvic protector as a woman. Note that women’s genital injuries have been in a drastic rise consistency. That’s why also women should wear cups.
You should also keep in mind that the recorded 240 injuries were very serious, and there are likely many times over not-so-serious injuries that still hurt like you wouldn’t believe and require some recovery.
Many well-known crotch injuries in baseball should be the ultimate reminder that all infielders should wear protective cups at all times. Know that there are too many known injuries to state everything below, so I have selected some to inform you of serious incidents that can happen if the protective cup is not worn.
Probably the worst crotch injury was the case of Josías Manzanillo in 1997. Jose played in the MLB for the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher when he got a hit by a ball swung by Manny Ramírez. This resulted in ruptured testicles, and he eventually lost one of them for good. This wouldn’t have happened if a protective cup had been worn.
Another known incident is one of Yadier Molina’s. He was catching for the St. Louis Cardinals when he got hit by a pitch straight to the balls at the speed of 102-mph thrown by Kris Bryant.
This resulted in a traumatic hematoma, meaning that blood vessels under your skin are damaged so badly that they start leaking, which results in swelling and unbelievable pain. In English, Yadier’s testicles ruptured. Luckily, doctors could save both balls, and no permanent damage was done.
What made this incident so easy to prevent was that Yadier was catching, which should automatically mean a quality protective cup without a second thought. Anyways, you can see the accident below if you wish…
At this point, it shouldn’t be unclear whether you should wear a protective cup in baseball, especially as a catcher, pitcher, or infielder.
What Age Should Baseball Players Wear a Cup?
Boys will have testicles from day one when given birth. Therefore, what is the proper age to start wearing a cup as the protection should always be there?
Baseball players should generally start wearing a cup at age seven and above. However, until the age of 12, a child should wear a comfy cup that protects the crotch area in a more child suitable and comfortable way. At age 12 and above, children can transition into hard protective cups.
The reason why young kids can wear softer cups is that the testicles aren’t as developed yet, so the risk of getting injured even is far lower, and a direct hit won’t do as much damage. In addition, kids aged 7-11 can’t swing that hard yet to present a serious safety risk.
This brings us to the question do youth baseball players have to wear cups?
Little League gives the following answer; ”Boys should wear an athletic supporter or compression shorts under their sweatpants and baseball pants. If your son is a catcher, it is mandatory to wear a protection cup”.
That being said, young boy baseball players that play the position of a catcher in the Little League must wear a protective cup as is stated in the rules. Others are encouraged to wear one for safety reasons and to accustom them to the habit of wearing a protective cup as they grow older.
Do MLB Players Have to Wear Cups?
So, catchers in the little league must wear a protective cup. Given that the speed and power in the MLB are considerably more advanced, are all of them required to wear protective cups?
The Major League Baseball (MLB) doesen’t require protective cups from their player regardless of the player position. However, protective cups are highly recommended, especially for catchers, pitchers, and infielders, as a direct hit to the ground can do irreparable damage.
As stated above, most infielders are smart enough to wear a protective cup as their career and fatherhood can be on the line. Still, some people refuse protective cups, and there is an understandable reason for that. Yet, infielders should always wear it, especially by a catcher. No exceptions.
More on why baseball players choose not to wear a cup later.
Do Female Baseball Players Wear Cups?
Female players don’t have balls last time I checked. Well, I haven’t checked that exactly, but you get the point. Still, the groin area is found in all human beings, so that makes you wonder, do female baseball players wear cups?
Generally, female baseball players don’t wear cups. However, most infielders wear pelvic protectors the same as men wear cups. Pelvic protectors are like cups but aren’t as deep as they doesen’t require testicle protection. Instead, they follow the women’s crotch and protect the pelvic area from hits.
You are very wrong if you think women have nothing to protect in the crotch area. The pelvic area is quite hard and sensitive, and as baseball can break bones from your arm, chin, face, and you name it, you can better believe that a powerful direct hit for the pelvic area would cause severe damage such as fractures and so on.
The ball is hard, and the speed is fast. No matter where it will hit, it will hurt and do potential damage. That’s why women wear pelvic protectors in fastpitch softball as well.
Check out an example of a pelvic protector from Amazon. You can see that they are smaller and more flat than athletic cups.
Do Baseball Umpires Wear Cups?
Baseball is dangerous for baseball players, and thus, cups are often worn or at least encouraged. We can’t forget the umpires doing great work and often found themselves in harm’s way. So, do baseball umpires wear cups?
Baseball umpires must wear a protective cup when working the plate and optional, yet recommended when working the bases. However, umpires often don’t wear traditional cups, but a more streamlined cup is often added inside compression shorts for greater mobility.
Umpires need to run fast, squat deep and stand still for long periods, so a traditional deep and large cup would be uncomfortable and on the way. Thus, a cup inside compression shorts such as the Shock Doctor Compression Shorts is better.
If you are interested in the baseball umpire uniform, you should check out my article about it.
Why Some Baseball Player’s Don’t Wear Cups?
As promised, I will explain why baseball players might choose not to wear a cup even when on the infield and forbid… a catcher.
Some baseball players refuse a protective cup regardless of the invaluable protection from pain and irreversible damage. The reasons can include discomfort, mobility issues, and decreased versatility in all skills which aren’t wanted in a fast-paced sport.
As rules don’t nearly ever require protective cups, it’s every player’s personal choice to decide whether to wear a cup or not.
Remember, if you ever want children and prevent yourself from unimaginable agony, you should wear a cup even if it creates a slight mobility or comfort nuance.
Oh, and there are many different ways to protect your crotch, so if one doesen’t feel comfortable, try another one! This brings us to the final topic!
What Do Baseball Players Wear to Protect Their Groins?
Generally, there are three main ways to protect one’s groins and two of them are for men, and one is meant for women. Let’s take a look at the original way.
Jockstraps or ”Jocks” are the original way to protect your testicles from damage. At first, jocks were meant to prevent the genital area from bouncing as that can start to hurt after a while.
However, nowadays, you can insert the athletic cup inside the jocks, giving your genitals a hard protective shell.
2. Athletic Cup
An athletic cup is often made from thin and hard metal or even hardened plastic. The athletic cup will form a secure protective area that conceals the genitals inside.
You can insert an athletic cup inside of the pocket in a jockstrap, compression shorts, and so on.
I like the combination of an athletic cup placed inside of a compression short’s pocket. This is a very secure and comfortable way to protect the genital area without feeling that it’s on the way.
3. Pelvic Protector
A pelvic protector is like a jockstrap with an athletic cup, yet it isn’t large and deep. Instead, a pelvic protector is smaller and flatter, which is perfect for a woman’s pelvic area.
This way, a potential direct hit wouldn’t do serious damage as it does the same thing for women as an athletic cup does for men.
My Favorite Baseball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you can find my favorite baseball bat, baseballs, and a glove that I think will take your game to the next level!
- Bat: My favorite baseball bat is the Easton Project 3 Fuze. This bat has a composite end cap, reduced post-impact vibrations, balanced swing weight for the fastest swing speed, and a carbon core that makes this bat perform very well! As I’m not a professional baseball player, I like to use alloy bats as you can swing faster and hit further.
- Baseballs: Rawlings Competition Grade Practice Balls are my choice for something to hit. I love these balls because they fit all levels of play, so regardless of who you are playing with, you can use them. They come in a 6 or 12 balls box, and you can choose between raised or flat seams! I prefer flat seams as the balls tend to fly further!
- Glove: When it comes to the glove, my choice is the Rawlings Sandlot Glove. This glove is available for both lefties and righties. The same glove is also available for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers, and 1B mitt. This glove has a nice vintage look, and it’s made from oiled leather. It has palm pads that protect your hand from impact, and it is pre-broken-in, so you are good to go as soon as you have it! A glove I’m proud to recommend.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.