If you look around near the home plate at a baseball field, you might have seen a sight that says no pepper. If you don’t know its meaning, it can be impossible to connect to what the sign refers to.
I remember first when I saw it and didn’t know about it. As a chef, my thoughts went straight to ground pepper and food, but that has nothing to do with baseball.
So, what does pepper mean in baseball? Pepper refers to a popular pre-game exercise in baseball, and it’s played by one batter and a small group of fielders. Pepper is a quick and easy way to warm up before a game and improve hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and accuracy.
The pepper game doesn’t require any major setup and can be played anywhere on the field, which is why it may be used as a quick warm-up before the game to gain contact with the ball and warm up the fielding skills.
Before I explain how pepper works exactly, I want to explain why pepper has such a weird name.
Why Is It Called Pepper In Baseball?
Pepper as a drill name is certainly unusual and often raises many questions. Luckily there is a reasonable answer and origin to the name.
The pepper drill in baseball has an unusual name deriving from how it’s played. In pepper, the tempo is quite fast, and the batter will ”pepper”, also called ”sprinkle” the ball back to the fielders throwing it.
Later in this article, you will find an in-depth explanation and a video on playing pepper. You will see that the batter is sprinkling the ball at a good speed back to the players. Still, you see pepper at play; you won’t connect it with peppering.
Thus, the name has probably come from one person saying that ”look at the batter he’s peppering” where the name spread across the country.
Is Pepper Allowed In Baseball?
Now, when you are going into a baseball stadium or walking past, you might see a sign saying ”No Pepper”, ”Pepper Not Allowed”, or ”No Pepper Games”. What’s up with that?
Generally, pepper isn’t allowed in baseball because of two reasons. First, it is a safety risk because the ball is thrown so close so the batter might hit the ball to the fans. Second, the players will remain in the same spot so long that the grass underneath will often get severely damaged.
That being said, I don’t recommend playing pepper in a stadium where you can find the sign. If you want to train pepper, you should do it away from the backstop as all stadiums have banned it 30 ballyards near the backstop because of the grass getting damaged.
Also, you should do it in the outfield as it removes the possibility of hitting the fans. Although, I don’t see the danger with pepper and hitting the fan if done correctly because the hits are so powerless.
Imagine being the stadium care keeper, and someone comes and jacks up the grass by playing 5 minutes of pepper. If you were to change places a bit, it wouldn’t be such a problem, so keep that in mind as well if you love playing pepper.
How to Play Pepper Baseball?
As promised, I’ll explain how to play pepper. It’s a fun and effective drill that should be known to all baseball players instead of wondering what it even means.
Things to keep in mind while training pepper. Fielders throw soft tosses to the batter, and the person being the pepper (batter) chokes the bat for control well above the knob. Hit the ball to the fielders by one bounce from the ground (no line drives).
Now, check out the instructions below to play pepper.
- Preparations: You will need 2 to 5 players, one bat, one ball, and gloves for the fielders.
- Take positions: Fielders take position 15 to 20ft (4.5-6m) from the batter. The batter takes an open stance and chokes the bat to hit the ball softly with control back to the fielders.
- Fielder: Throw the ball softly to the batter. You can throw under or overhand but be sure to toss it soft to the waist-shoulder level.
- Batter: Hit the ball with great control, accuracy, and moderate power by bouncing back to the fielders. Remember to alter the fielder you are hitting the ball, which becomes consistent training for everyone.
- Fielder: Now the batter hits the ball to another fielder. Catch the ball and throw a quick soft toss back to the batter, so he will need to use reflexes and focus.
- Change positions: Change positions after the pepper has hit 20 swings. It’s best to change the position on the field as well to prevent grass from damage.
For that valuable visual learning, check out the video below about how to play pepper.
Is Pepper a Good Baseball Drill?
Now that you know everything about pepper, you should know whether to use the drill. Is pepper worth doing, or is it a waste of time?
Pepper is a great baseball drill that improves both the batter and fielders by requiring a good use of reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility. Pepper as a drill is also very quick to start and can be done anywhere.
Without exaggerating, pepper is one of the best baseball drills even created. That’s why it’s a shame that some baseball stadiums have banned it, even when there is an understandable cause.
Know that you can easily play pepper in your backyard, a field, park, and places like that!
Pepper as a Competetive Game
In addition to the quick pepper drill as a baseball warm-up, it’s a competitive game as well! The idea is quite similar to the warm-up drill, except the tempo is much faster, and the fielders are a bit closer to the batter than in the warm-up drill.
Competetive pepper works so that the fielder throws a ball to the batter, who attempts to hit grounders for some of the fielders. If a fielder successfully fields the ball, he will throw the ball as quickly as possible back to the batter.
If the fielder is unsuccessful at fielding the ball, he must move back the line. However, if the batter hits a foul ball, the batter becomes a retired batter, becomes a fielder, and moves to the end of the line. A new pepper (batter) is the first one on the line.
If the batter hits a line drive or a pop-up, the fielder who catches it becomes the new batter.
A batter with a certain amount of successful bats, such as 50, wins the game.
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.