What Does Pine Tar Do in Baseball?

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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Many new baseball fans might be curious about pine tar and how players use it in a game. There are many questions around this substance, including What is pine tar? What does pine tar do in baseball? Are players allowed to use it in an official game?, etc.

So, through this article, we will explain the details about this brownish substance and how its stickiness can improve baseball players’ grip on their bat.

What is Pine Tar?


Pine tar is a form of pinewood tar gone through carbonization in high temperature and anoxic conditions. In detail, with heat and pressure, the pinewood is decomposed at a significant speed. At the end of these processes, the main products are pine tar and charcoal.

You can notice this substance by its brownish color and tacky texture. It is widely used for shampoos and soaps, as it is good for the skin and refreshing for hair and scalp health.

The use of pine tar in baseball

When applied on the bat, this substance allows players to have improved grip. In addition, it works on different types of bat, be it aluminum, wood, or composite, making the bat slicker for us to swing with ease.

The extreme temperatures can help us differentiate the excellent pine tar from the bad ones. The quality product should be able to withstand hot and cold weather without losing its stickiness.

There are liquid, stick, and wax pine tars, which are often made compact for players to bring along for their games. The product in the liquid form can be a bit messy for first-time users, but it can provide an incredibly tacky grip on the bats.

When using pine tar for your games, make sure you also have in hand the ideal pine tar remover. This item is necessary to keep your bat from being clumpy after a while when the tar is shunned and stops being sticky.

Rule of pine tar utilization in baseball

Pitchers are not allowed to use pine tar, but batters can. It is illegal for pitchers to apply this substance on the soft ball to damage the ball.

The rule for pitchers:

Rule 3.01 (3.02) for pitchers in baseball states that they cannot intentionally damage or change the ball’s color. Therefore, all attempts to use substances, including soil, paraffin, sand-paper, emery-paper, rosin, licorice, and pine tar, are deemed against the game’s rules.

Furthermore, Rule 8.02 (b) requires all pitchers not to attach anything to their hands, fingers, and wrists. In case of any substance found, including a foreign substance like pine tar, the pitcher will not be allowed to continue with the game.

The rule for batters:

Rule 3.02 (c) for batters in baseball games states that the pine tar cannot extend past the limitation of 18 inches. In such cases, the umpire will order the batter to change to a different bat. This situation can be identified by the umpire himself or by the opposing team only if the substance is removed from the old bat that the batter can resume using it.

The most famous incident of the application of this substance is the Pine Tar Incident in 1983. It happened during the baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees on July 24. The player George Brett of the Royals hit a two-run home run in the game. And the Yankees manager requested the umpire to inspect Brett’s bat.

After confirming that the amount of pine tar found in the bat exceeds the rule of 18 inches, they ruled George Brett out and did not count the home run. But, twenty-five days after the incident, the Royals successfully overturned the result and restored their home run.

How to Apply Pine Tar on Bats Before Playing?


Before a baseball game, if you are a batter, you can apply pine tar to enhance the tackiness of your grip. Make sure you purchase a high-quality pine tar product to ensure its performance during a long game. And here’s how we do it to have the best result:

It would help if you wiped the bat clean. This work can be done with a piece of soft clothes. If you want to protect your brand new bat from any scratches, maybe try the microfiber cleaning cloths, as they offer incredible softness.

Open the pine tar stick or liquid jar you have. With the product in stick form, it is easier for us to apply it on the bat surface, as the pine tar stick has a wrapper. As the easy-to-tear paper is cleared a little, the exposed part of the stick allows you to rub it on the bat directly.

For liquid pine tar, you have to be more careful when pouring it out little by little on a thick towel.

Afterward, you can gently roll the bat on the pine tar to have it covered neatly on the bat. You should wait for nearly 24 hours before replying if necessary. You can leave it for about three days for the substance to dry completely. But depending on different weather, this process can take a bit longer, expanding to a week.

Please note that you have to keep the substance within 28 inches, according to the rule for batters in baseball. Therefore, the areas applied should be below the barrel to follow the proper regulation before stepping into the games.

After steps are finished, keep your pine tar in a clean space and be careful not to stain them on any white clothes.


Scrolling through our quick read, now you know the answer to all the questions about pine tar, including “what does pine tar do in baseball?”. And since you are aware of rules made for batters and pitchers about the application of pine tar, we hope you are careful when using it for your games.

Feel free to leave your sharing about this substance and its use in improving your baseball matches.

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