Because most sports have strict rules about wearing jewelry, you rarely see professional sportsmen wearing necklaces and similar jewelry during a game. However, it is relatively common to see baseball players wear necklaces. So why do baseball players wear chains?
Baseball players wear chains for one of four reasons: style, religious reasons, sentimental reasons, or improved performance. Depending on the player and their reasoning, chains can range from large chains made of precious metals and stones to simple materials like string or beadwork.
Along with exploring the types of chains players wear, and why players choose to wear them, we will also look at the history of wearing chains in baseball and famous players that have worn chains during their MBL careers.
Who Started The Trend Of Wearing Chains In Baseball?
Because baseball is a century-old sport with multiple divisions, leagues, and teams throughout the years, it can be difficult to determine when exactly wearing chains became a trend in baseball.
However, a primary figure in the wearing of chains in the MLB can be attributed to Curt Shilling and his establishment of the “Chain Gang.” The Chain Gang was an unofficial club that promoted the wearing of large, visible chains by MLB players during the 1990s and early 2000s.
However, some commentators have retroactively used the term “Chain Gang Old-Timers” to refer to pre-1990s MLB players that were known to sports chains during their careers.
Some notable Chain Gang members included (among many others):
- Jeff Weaver,
- Felix Hernandez,
- Oliver Perez,
- Miguel Batista,
- Albert Pujols,
- Pedro Martinez,
- Jon Garland,
- Chien-Ming Wang,
- Jose Lima,
- Turk Wendell,
- George Scott,
- Jerome Williams.
Why Do Baseball Players Wear Chains?
There are four main reasons MLB players wear visible chains while playing:
- Religious reasons,
- Sentimental reasons,
The first and most apparent reason baseball players wear chains and necklaces is to look stylish. However, some baseball players take this a step further by investing in expensive, large chains as a symbol of wealth and to express their unique personalities.
However, many players also choose to wear more subtle/modest chains under the jerseys or simple chains that complement the color and styling of their team’s kit (with some sporting necklaces with clear team coloring and/or iconography.)
2. Religious Reasons
Players that wear chains for religious reasons, such as those sporting Christian or Islamic iconography, usually opt for modest, simple designs that allow them to express their faith while not advertising it to the broader public (this is because the MLB does have rules regarding the advert expression of religious beliefs.)
Consequently, players may often make small religious gestures while holding their necklaces before, during, or after a game.
3. Sentimental Reasons
Many players wear necklaces given to them by friends, family, coaches, players, and even fans. Players that choose to wear chains for sentimental value often state that doing so helps give them the confidence and patience to perform at the highest level.
Finally, some players choose to wear necklaces due to their perceived medical/performance benefits (such as Phiten necklaces, which will be discussed in greater detail below.)
Although the scientific evidence for most “sports enhancing jewelry” is debatable, this hasn’t stopped players from continuing to wear them, even if just for the perceived mental/confidence benefits.
What Type Of Chains Do Baseball Players Wear?
Generally speaking, baseball players wear three types of necklaces:
- Large gold chains,
- Simple, modest chains,
- Phiten necklaces.
1. Large Gold Chains
Despite being heavy and cumbersome, many players like to wear large, expensive chains, which include precious metals and stones in their designs.
Consequently, some players like Yoenis Cespedes and Lance McCullers have experienced embracing incidents of halted play due to broken chains and the loss of precious stones while playing baseball!
The two incidents in question include Yoenis Cespedes breaking his necklace while slipping into second base at Citi Field in 2018 and Lance McCullers having his diamond-encrusted bracelet disintegrate at the Yankees Stadium in 2017.
2. Simple Modest Chains
Generally reserved for players that wear chains for sentimental reasons or are mandated to wear smaller chains for religious reasons, these chains are often made from lightweight semi-precious materials like silver or basic materials like string/beadwork.
3. Phiten Necklaces
Finally, while there are many “sports performance jewelry” brands on the market, many players have worn Phiten necklaces during their baseball careers (some notable player examples include John Lester, Justin Verlander, and Justin Pedroia.)
Phiten started in 1982 in Japan as an alternative medical provider, thus developing, creating, and distributing “performance enhancing jewelry” like bracelets and necklaces.
Their necklaces are made from titanium and coated in “Aqua-Titanium” the purpose of the titanium, along with the twisted rope design, is to realign the body’s biological electrical fields, thus improving performance and releasing tension in stiff muscles.
Despite the popularity of Phiten’s necklaces among MLB players, there is little to no scientific evidence to back up these performance-enhancing/medical benefits.
Do Other Sports Allow Players To Wear Necklaces?
At the time of writing, different sporting bodies limit the wearing of necklaces and other pieces of jewelry for safety reasons.
For example, while the NFL allows for lightweight necklaces so as to not cause injury during collisions, the NBA doesn’t allow jewelry of any kind, especially chains, since they may present a choking hazard!
Interestingly enough, Formula One has some of the strictest rules on jewelry. Resulting in their most prominent stars like Lewis Hamilton having to remove semi-permanent jewelry like nose studs and earrings in order to drive!
In conclusion, there are many varied reasons why baseball players wear chains, hence the inclusion of various styles of chains worn across teams throughout the years!