(WYTV) – When baseball players leave the field, their gloves come with them — but they’ve only been doing that since 1954.
Major League Baseball’s rule number 3.10 says members of the offensive team shall carry all gloves and other equipment off the field and to the dugout while their team is at bat. No equipment shall be left lying on the field, either in fair or foul territory.
Before 1954, it was customary for players to leave their gloves on the field. Outfielders would drop them where they stood, shortstops and second baseman would typically throw them onto the infield grass just off the dirt, and the first and third basemen would toss their gloves into foul territory.
The pitcher and catcher typically put their gloves on top of the dugout.
That’s when the fun started. Opposing players would sometimes steal gloves or hide them.
A Sports Illustrated article from 1984 reports it became common for players to stuff an opponent’s mitt with grass, or sand, or rocks, or even dead mice and rats, frogs and lizards. Star Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto was often one of the targets.
But rule 3.10 isn’t meant to stop practical jokers. MLB decided it was simply unsafe to have a foreign object on the baseball field, even if it was just a glove.
The rule was controversial when it took effect but now, it’s taken for granted.