This week Duke Cannon released our latest scent: the Big Ass Brick of Pine Tar Soap (available for a limited time only). Now, our Pine Tar Soap is 100% umpire-approved, but it got us thinking about all the substances baseball has seen fit to ban over the years—and there are a lot of them. So with a sympathetic tip of the cap to the MLB Player’s Union, here’s an incomplete-but-informative sampling.
HGH (HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE)Human growth is fine in the basic sense; Duke Cannon enjoys seeing his fellow citizens expand their goals and succeed in new endeavors. What MLB does not want to see, however, is a super-race of scientifically enhanced Goliaths belting home runs into neighboring counties and rampaging around the basepaths, snorting and slobbering as they look for prey.
SALIVAThis one depends on context, as there is certainly no shortage of spitting in baseball. However, applying salvia to the ball is considering doctoring, with the notorious “Spitball” that results having been banned from league play since February 10, 1920 (although still alive and well on playgrounds).
COCAINEThis makes perfect sense as it’s a highly illegal substance, but it also spares fans of having to hear to every other player shout “Say hello to my little friend!” whenever they step in the batter’s box waving their bat.
SUNBLOCKFlying in the face of all modern medical advice, MLB has banned the use of sunscreen on the field, all because some wily pitchers figured out you could use it to get your sinker to drop a couple more inches. You’ll have to rely on the brim of your hat for SUV protection, boys.
LICORICEMore pitcher shenanigans. Although commonly known as a delicious movie-time treat for the whole family (the whole Red Vine VS Twizzlers dust-up notwithstanding), licorice leaves your hands sticky and therefore has found itself on MLB’s list of banned foreign substances.
SOSA / McGWIREIf you even shake hands with one of these guys the residue on your skin could earn you a 10-game suspension.
NAIL FILESOverall, Duke Cannon is fine with men wanting to keep their hands tidy. MLB does not share our POV on this subject, however, and has banned nail files, emery boards and the like from the field of play to prevent pitchers (them again) from scuffing the ball to gain an advantage. So keep your manicures confined to the clubhouse, gentlemen.
KETCHUPThis is not officially on the MLB list, but we are adding it ourselves because, as no less an authority than Dirty Harry Callahan said: “No one—and I mean no one—puts ketchup on a hot dog.” You’ve been warned.
PINE TAR (SORT OF)This sticky substance has had a long and storied relationship with baseball, which is precisely why we made a soap that pays homage to it. Basically, pitchers are banned from having any of the substance on their body or uniforms, but batters can use it on their bat handles to improve grip—though they cannot apply the sticky substance more than 18” above the knob.
This has resulted in some controversy. The most famous instance occurred on July 24, 1983, with the Kansas City Royals playing the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Royals were trailing 4-3 in the top of the 9th with 2 outs, when Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett hit a two-run homer to give the Royals the lead. But Yankees manager Billy Martin cried foul, claiming George’s bat had a too much pine tar on it. The umpires inspected the bat, ruled that the amount of pine tar on it exceeded what was allowed, and called George out, giving the Yankees the win. Chaos ensued, and this became known as “The Pine Tar Incident.” Decades later, George Brett is still pretty hot about it.