What’s a baseball game without petrochemicals? (spoiler alert: the answer is, not much)

At the plate?

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You won’t see a batter without a batting helmet, but without tough plastics like ABS, there wouldn’t be batting helmets.  (ABS, by the way, is Acrylonitrile, Butadiene and Styrene – petrochemical products all.)  The padding inside that helmet (just in case)?  More (soft) plastics, made from petrochemicals.

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Even Babe Ruth needs a uni, and today’s uniforms, and caps, are made mostly from nylon and spandex (which in turn, are, yep, made from petrochemicals).

Behind the plate?

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These days, what stands between an Aroldis Chapman fastball and a catcher are – petrochemicals, turned into gear like the mask (solid polyvinyl or PVC-coated metal), the chest protector (fortified with polyethylene “sternum” inserts), the leg guards, the throat protector.

And behind the catcher – the home plate umpire has gear made of the same stuff.  (In fact, all that “armor” hitters wear these days – elbow pads, shin guards, ankle guards?  Same stuff.)

In the field?

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The gloves are leather, but they’re lined with a polyurethane film, which makes great grabs a little easier on the hand.  And, you know the drill now, polyurethane is made from – petrochemicals.

And let’s not forget what baseball is all about – the ball!

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The center of the ball is cork, and that cork is wrapped in synthetic rubber (thanks, butadiene, for making that possible).  But that’s all we know about baseball construction, so if you’re thinking maybe we’ve got some inside knowledge, is the ball juiced?  No, we don’t.  Sorry (we’d tell you if we knew).

Now that’s baseball from the players’ perspective – but there’s a lot more that goes into a day at the ballpark for the rest of us.

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Maybe you’ve been there when your pitcher has a two-strike count on a hitter, and everyone stands – hoping for strike three?  That’s exciting, but if you had stand for all nine innings – not so exciting.  Thanks to foam made from polystyrene (made from the petrochemical styrene, but by now, you probably knew that), we have seats – though in some ballparks, we hear you if you’re hoping they could make that foam a little softer.

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If you’ve ever missed a pitch, you can catch up with a quick glance at the scoreboard (or any of the smaller screens with strikes, balls, pitch count, etc. around most parks).  And yes, the physical scoreboard itself, along with most of its parts – made from materials made from petrochemicals.

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On a hot day, you might want a cold one to go with your dog or garlic fries – and that beer will come in – a plastic cup (polypropylene, to give credit where credit is due).

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And when the game is over, and you head out to your car for the (triumphant, we hope) drive home – you’ll find your car sitting on, asphalt, of course (which is, of course, made from petroleum).

Even if petrochemicals didn’t exist, there’d still be kids hitting and catching balls out in a field somewhere.  But today’s professional game?  Along with launch angles and pulling the ball to the right; two-fingered, four-fingered and split-fingered fastballs; wooden bats and leather gloves;  all the materials made from petrochemicals, also make it possible to – Play Ball!

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