Best Sunglasses for Baseball
Baseball is a sport where there is a relatively tiny ball, which is white, which gets hit or thrown around the field at speeds faster than a car drives on the interstate. And it is usually played in the bright sun, without any solid background in a player’s field of vision anywhere to help pick the ball out from the background it is flying in front of. Sound tough? It is, but the right pair of sunglasses could make all the difference in your game, and help you pick off that line drive, see that grounder coming towards you just a bit better, or catch a ball that popped up right in between you and the sun.
What to Look For
Most people think that sunglasses are sunglasses and that’s it. They don’t realize that different styles are not just there for looks, but can serve a specific purpose as well. Don’t make the mistake of lumping all “sports” style sunglasses into the same category either. There are a number of specific traits which combine to create the best sunglasses for baseball. The first is wrap-around frames, the second is a three-point grip system, the third is that the lenses must be rimless on the bottom, and the fourth is the lens type itself, which must include the lens being shatterproof.
Wrap Around Frames and Three Point Grip
Most sports sunglasses use wrap around frames, so this one is kind of a no-brainer. They all don’t have a three point grip system though, which should be something you look for carefully. Besides the frame needing to sit comfortably on your head while wearing a baseball cap OR a batting helmet, your shades will need to stay on your face through the sweat and fast jukes, steals and slides you will be making.
A good pair will be rubberized at the nose and a bit at the temples, including the frame arms. It should be a material which sticks to your face even through the sweat without being so tight that it begins to give you a headache. This is a common problem with cheapo sports glasses; they tend to use pressure rather than high-quality materials to keep the glasses on, and this has consequences to the wearer over the course of a day. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic on external compression headaches and decide how much a pain free (or at least headache-free!) game is worth to you. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/external-compression-headaches/basics/definition/con-20025257)
Another important aspect of finding the best sunglasses for baseball is having rimless lenses. There is a simple reason for this, in that rimless lenses don’t leave that teeny tiny blind spot of a lens rim in the lower field of your vision. This blind spot doesn’t seem like much, but most baseball pros agree that any advantage you can have helps, and a willful disadvantage, no matter how small, can cost you the game.
There are less rules, it seems, in baseball lenses than in some other sports. This is because baseball can be played in the daytime and also at night with bright lights on the field. The serious player will have a set of shades for each, but oftentimes that is too much for the rest of us. It goes without saying that all sunglasses lenses when being used for baseball need to be shatterproof. Routine exit speeds for a ball (the speed at which the ball leaves the batting area after being hit) are around 100 mph. See http://www.efastball.com/hitting/average-bat-speed-exit-speed-by-age-group/ for a few more details about ball speed. Should the baseball hit your sunglasses, if your lenses are not shatterproof you may be in for a very serious problem.
Type of Lens
After checking that your lenses are shatterproof, there are a few things you need to know. A good set of lenses will have a mirror coating on the outside and an anti-reflective coating [*] on the inside. This gets the maximum amount of glare away from your eyes and doesn’t produce ghost reflections on the inside of the lenses, giving you the maximum clarity with which to see the ball.
The call is still held on whether polarized lenses, or red and/or amber colored lenses are better. Polarization cuts the glare down completely and sharpens everything, but at the cost of a tiny bit of depth perception, and amber and red colored lenses sharpen the contrast around the ball, but changes the colors that make it through the lens. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Pro tip: if you are colorblind like nearly 10% of men are, go for the polarized lenses; the colored ones won’t have the contrast effectiveness with you very much. Check out http://colorvisiontesting.com/ to make sure. It’s worth the 5 minutes you will spend!