Monday, April 5th, 2010

Opening Day: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The smell of spring is in the air and that means one thing – baseball. More specifically, today is opening day for the 2010 Major League Baseball season.  I can’t wait to head to the stadium today, to root for the home team (and if they don’t win it’s a shame) and to hear the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat and the umpire yell “play ball.”  Of course, baseball wouldn’t be the game it is today without the use of plastic.

When you look out on the field you’ll see lots of plastic products being used and keeping the players safe.  Plastic batting helmets are used by batters and runners to help protect them from balls thrown at them.  Most helmets are made from tough plastics such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) with interiors consisting of soft plastic foam pads. The pads are commonly made from polypropylene (PP) or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA).

The leather gloves that are used by pitchers, infielders and outfielders are lined with polyurethane surface film to give them the protection and ability to catch the ball with ease. And the catcher! — wow, he’s covered in many plastic products: masks (made from a solid vinyl coated metal frame), chest protectors (covered in nylon and made from polyethylene plastic sternum inserts) and shin guards (padded with foam). Plastics help keep him safe from the potential impact of balls being thrown at over 90 mph or from a collision with a runner trying to head home. (And the home plate umpire relies on much of  the same plastic protection as the catcher — but do we really care about him?)

To quote some lyrics from the classic song by Jack Norworth, “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd; Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” (in plastics packaging)…  So here’s to baseball and plastics – a winning combination!

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