Glove and Bat

Seeing Clearly: The Science Behind Eye Black in Baseball

Eye black has been a staple of athletic equipment for decades, with baseball and football players being the most frequent users. Whether it’s strips directly applied under the eyes or a thick layer of grease or paint-like substances, players have flocked to wear it.

The purpose of eye black is to reduce glare, improve vision, and offer a psychological advantage during the game. In this article, we’ll explore the history, purpose, and types of eye black, and the science behind why it’s become a widely used tool for sports.

Early Days of Eye Black

The history of eye black dates back to the baseball players of the late 19th century. During day games, players would apply burnt cork to reduce the glare from the sun and improve their vision.

Later, shoe polish and beeswax replaced cork, making it easier to apply and remove. The ingredients were no longer limited to burnt cork and wax.

Nowadays, a wide range of substances is utilized, including a variety of colors.

Purpose of Eye Black

The primary function of eye black is to reduce glare. Players who wear it can see much more clearly during daytime games, particularly on sunny days when the sun’s rays can cause discomfort.

This can help players see the ball better, improve their hand-eye coordination, maintain focus, and minimize any distractions that may hamper their performance. It’s worth noting that the same purpose is served by ski masks, which skiers wear to reduce glare while skiing down a mountain.

Psychological Advantage

In addition to the practical purpose of helping players see better, eye black also offers a psychological advantage. The black paint or grease is a familiar sight during games, and players want to be known for what it represents: grit and determination.

Wearing eye black signifies that the player is tough, doesn’t give up, and is willing to put in the work to come out on top. For some players, it also provides a degree of confidence: They feel like they’re more intimidating with it on, and that feeling can push them to play better.

Types of Eye Black

There are various forms of eye black, with grease and stickers being the most popular. Not all eye black is created equal, however, and some are more effective than others.

Let’s take a closer look.

Forms of Eye Black

Grease eye black is a mixture of beeswax or petroleum jelly, along with dust-like substances such as carbon or powdered charcoal. This is one of the more common forms of eye black, particularly for baseball players.

It is easy to apply and stays put throughout the game. For football players, pre-cut strips are the most popular form of eye black.

These are simply adhesive strips that are placed under the eyes. They come in various sizes and shapes, with some extending up towards the forehead or onto the cheeks.

The application is simple and quick, and many players find them comfortable to wear. Another form of eye black is stickers.

These are pre-designed decals that stick directly onto the cheeks and forehead. While they may be easy to apply and offer a degree of customization, they are less effective than grease or strips.

This is because they do not cover as much skin surface area and therefore offer less glare reduction.

Effectiveness of Eye Black

Studies on the effectiveness of eye black have produced mixed results. Some research shows that it does improve vision, particularly in sunny conditions.

However, other studies have shown that glare reduction is minimal at best. The effectiveness may depend on the user, the specific product being used, and the playing conditions.

Usage by Baseball Players

For baseball players, the traditional placement for eye black is directly under the eyes, as it’s been for over 100 years. The idea is to reduce glare from the sun or bright stadium lights and improve vision while tracking a pitch.

Players may also put it on their cheeks or forehead, depending on their own personal preference. In conclusion, eye black has been an important part of sports gear for decades, serving to offer players an edge in sunny and brightly lit conditions.

The primary goal is to reduce glare, improve vision, and offer a psychological advantage. There are various forms of eye black, ranging from grease to stickers to cut-out strips, with each offering varying degrees of effectiveness.

While studies on the effectiveness of eye black vary, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s often successful in creating a mindset of determination and remaining focused.

3) Why Baseball Players Wear Eye Black

When watching a baseball game, it’s hard not to notice the black smudges under a player’s eyes. This is eye black, and it’s often worn for practical, fashion, and psychological reasons.

Reduce Glare

One of the primary reasons baseball players wear eye black is to reduce the glare of the sun and bright stadium lights. The matte black surface of the eye black reduces the amount of light that reflects off a player’s cheeks.

This can improve their ability to track a ball when it’s in the air, particularly in bright or contrasting lighting conditions. Some players will even wear eye black during night games, as the lights can create shadows that also make it difficult to see.

Fashion Statement

While eye black was originally worn for practical reasons, it’s now become a fashion statement in baseball. Many players view eye black as a declaration of their toughness and determination.

It’s an iconic symbol that signifies strength and power. Some players also find that the matte black smudges look cool and stylish, adding to their overall persona on the field.

Psychological Advantage

Eye black also provides players with a psychological advantage. The smudged black lines under the eyes create a fierce look that can intimidate opponents.

The added confidence can allow players to perform at their best, even when under pressure. Additionally, the improved vision and better focus can help players maintain their mental edge throughout a game.

4) Eye Black Products

There are various eye black products available for baseball players, from colored eye black to athletic grease and stickers. Here are some of the most popular brands used by MLB players.

Brands Used by MLB Players

Franklin Sports is one of the most popular eye black brands used by MLB players. Their premium colored eye black comes in four colors: black, pink, blue, and green.

It’s easy to apply and has a non-toxic and smudge-proof formula that stays put throughout the game. Easton Pro Eye Black is another popular choice.

It comes in a tube applicator that makes it easy to apply and is sweat-proof, so it won’t smudge during the game. It’s offered in four different colors: black, blue, pink, and red.

Wilson’s Black Eye Stick is a classic eye black product that’s been used by baseball players for years. It’s sweat-resistant and offers long-lasting protection during a game.

The stick format is convenient for players who are looking for an easy application method, and it’s also available in a variety of colors. EyeBlack Athletic Grease is a thicker formula that offers extra glare reduction.

It comes in a tube and can be easily applied to the cheeks and forehead. It’s a long-lasting formula that won’t smear or smudge, even during the most intense games.

Licensing Deals

Eye black has become an integral part of baseball culture, and some companies have capitalized on its popularity. offers custom eye black decals that bear a team’s logo or slogan.

MLB even sells licensed eye black products that feature a team’s colors and logo. However, it’s worth noting that not all leagues allow eye black with writing, designs, or logos.

Restrictions in Writing

While eye black has become an iconic accessory in baseball, not all leagues allow players to wear it with any writing or design. The NCAA has strict rules on what can be worn under a player’s helmet, with restrictions on logos and other graphics.

Similarly, the NFL has very specific rules on what can be printed on eye black. Only small letters or symbols can be used, and only on the cheek area.

This is to prevent players from using eye black as an advertising or messaging tool. In conclusion, eye black is a popular accessory among baseball players, providing them with a range of benefits, including reducing glare, offering a psychological advantage, and making a fashion statement.

Various eye black products are available to choose from, including athletic grease, color varieties, and stick formats. However, not all leagues permit eye black with writing or designs, and players must adhere to specific rules and restrictions.

5) Pitchers and Eye Black

While eye black is commonly worn by baseball players, it’s less common to see pitchers sporting the black smudges. However, there have been some notable pitchers who have worn eye black on the mound.

Pitchers Wearing Eye Black

One of the most famous pitchers to wear eye black during games was Roger Clemens. The former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pitcher was known for his intense demeanor on the mound.

He often wore eye black as a way to reduce glare and improve his vision while pitching. However, Clemens was a rarity among pitchers, and few other major league players have followed suit.

Allowed Usage

There are no official rules against pitchers wearing eye black, but the lack of usage can be related to personal preference and comfort. Some pitchers may find the black smudges distracting or irritating while they throw, while others may simply prefer to wear a hat to shield their eyes from glare.

Ultimately, it’s up to each individual pitcher to decide whether or not to wear eye black during games.

6) Buying Eye Black

If you are a baseball player looking to buy eye black, you have a few different options. Eye black is widely available for purchase, both in-store and online.

Retail Availability

Sporting goods stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Academy Sports + Outdoors have eye black products available for purchase. Walmart and Target stores also carry basic eye black strips and other brands with limited variety.

Online Purchase Options

One convenient way to buy eye black is through an online marketplace like Amazon. You can purchase a variety of eye black products, including grease, strips, and custom decals.

Some popular brands are available for purchase, and you can read reviews from other buyers to help you make an informed decision. Another option is to purchase directly from individual eye black brand websites. offers customized products with various designs, logos, and graphics, whereas other brands like Franklin Sports and Easton Pro offer solid color choices. When purchasing online, make sure to read reviews and compare prices to get the best value for your money.

Eye black lasts for a long time, so it’s worth investing in a high-quality product that will offer the best protection during games.

7) Eye Black Components

Eye black is composed of several key ingredients that work together to reduce glare and improve visibility for baseball players. While the exact formula can vary from brand to brand, most eye black products contain similar components.

Ingredients in Eye Black

Paraffin is a type of wax that’s commonly used as a base for eye black products. It helps to keep the other ingredients together and prevents the formula from smudging during a game.

Charcoal powder is often added to eye black to give it a matte black finish that can reduce glare. It’s a natural ingredient and is known for its ability to absorb excess oil from the skin.

Vitamin E is a key ingredient in many eye black products, as it offers a variety of benefits for the skin. It can help to protect the skin from damage by free radicals and may help to reduce inflammation.

Oil is added to eye black to make it easier to apply and to help the product adhere to the skin. This can range from natural oils like coconut or olive oil to synthetic oils.

Iron oxide is a pigment that’s added to some eye black products to create different color varieties. While black is the most common color, some brands offer eye black in other colors like blue, pink, and green.

Aloe vera is a popular skincare ingredient that is often included in eye black products. It can soothe irritated skin, reduce inflammation, and provide hydration.

Caffeine and menthol are two ingredients that some eye black products include. They can help to improve alertness, reduce fatigue, and provide a cooling sensation on the skin.

Eye black products also often contain skin conditioners and agents that help to keep the formula gentle on the skin. These may include gentle exfoliating agents, glycerin to hydrate and retain moisture, or antibacterial agents to help prevent bacterial infection.

Effectiveness on Eye Color

For the most part, eye black is effective on all eye colors. However, some research suggests that it may be less effective on blue eyes, as they are more sensitive to light and may require additional protection.

In these cases, using a darker shade of eye black or combining it with a hat or sunglasses may provide better coverage and protection from glare. In conclusion, eye black is composed of several key ingredients that work together to reduce glare and improve visibility for baseball players.

While the exact formulation can differ from brand to brand, most products contain a base of paraffin wax, charcoal powder for matte black coverage, vitamin E for skin protection, and oil to help the product adhere to the skin. Whether you have blue or any other color of eyes, properly applied eye black can be an effective tool to improve your ability to see during a game.

In summary, eye black is a tool that baseball players use to reduce glare, improve vision, offer a psychological advantage, and make a fashion statement. It comes in a variety of forms including grease, strips, and stickers, and some popular brands are used by MLB players.

The components in eye black include paraffin, charcoal powder, vitamin E, oil, iron oxide, aloe, caffeine, menthol, skin conditioners, and agents, and it can be effective for all eye colors. The availability of eye black is wide, both online and in-store.

It is an important part of baseball culture and an essential tool for many players.



What is eye black and what does it do? Eye black is a tool that baseball players use to reduce glare, improve vision, offer a psychological advantage, and make a fashion statement.

2. What are the popular forms of eye black?

Popular forms of eye black include grease, strips, and stickers. 3.

What are some of the most popular eye black brands used by MLB players? Some popular eye black brands used by MLB players are Franklin Sports, Easton Pro, Wilson’s Black Eye Stick, and EyeBlack Athletic Grease.

4. What are the components of eye black?

The components of eye black include paraffin, charcoal powder, vitamin E, oil, iron oxide, aloe, caffeine, menthol, skin conditioners, and agents. 5.

Is eye black effective for all eye colors? While eye black is generally effective for all eye colors, it may be less effective on blue eyes and may require additional protection.

Popular Posts