The rules of a baseball game as specified by Major League Baseball strive for fairness in all aspects of the game and prohibit the use of distracting motions, equipment or behavior that gives a player a competitive advantage. Because baseball pitchers control an important aspect of the game by determining when and how the pitched ball is thrown to the batter, special rules apply regarding pitching a baseball. One such rule governs the pitcher's glove. In order to prohibit an unfair distraction to the batter, the rules of the game limit the colors used for a pitcher's glove.
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The Official Rules of Major League Baseball set limitations on a pitcher's glove in Rule 1.15. The pitcher's glove must be one color -- no two-tone gloves allowed -- and can be any color except gray or white. A glove that does not meet these requirements must be changed. An umpire can enforce the rule on his own or in response to an inquiry by the opposing team's manager. In addition to the specific requirements, the rule also gives the umpire authority to remove any glove that could be distracting to a hitter.
Major League Baseball dates to the 1870s, and during the early years of the game pitchers found that hitters could be distracted by a white glove to hide or confuse the path of the pitched baseball. Also, the pitcher's wind-up in the early years of the game involved many more gyrations than in the modern game. Umpires as well as batters complained about the difficulty of seeing the pitched ball. Major League Baseball responded by banning white and gray gloves for pitchers.
Other Baseball Leagues
Most amateur baseball leagues, such as Little League Baseball, follow the Major League Baseball rule prohibiting the use of a white or gray glove for pitchers. For colleges and universities adhering to NCAA rules, pitchers are specifically instructed to use only a brown or black glove. International rules, such as used by the World Baseball Classic, do not prohibit or specify a particular color. The rule in these games focuses on whether the pitcher's glove creates a distraction for the hitter.
Softball leagues are also concerned about the color of a pitcher's glove causing a distraction to the batter. Because softball leagues often use balls that are yellow, the rule is further modified from the Major League Baseball standard. For example, the Amateur Softball Association prohibits pitcher's gloves that are white, gray or yellow optic and a multicolored glove cannot have any of these colors.