Do baseball players pee on their hands?

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Some baseball players pee on their hands to harden or soften the skin, prevent or heal blisters or calluses. Urine contains urea, which softens the skin. However, the urea content in urine is lower than in skin lotions. Nolan Ryan dipped his fingers in pickle juice to harden the skin.

While it’s unusual and the benefits of doing so aren’t clear, some baseball players do wee on their hands. The most common reasons cited are to harden the skin, to soften it, and to prevent or heal blisters or calluses. Urine contains an organic compound called urea, which is also commercially produced and included in many skin moisturizers.

Players who have admitted it

During an interview in 2004, Moises Alou, a professional baseball player, revealed that he pees on his hands to harden his skin and prevent calluses. Alou, who was playing for the Chicago Cubs at the time, said he didn’t know where he learned this trick, but he attributed his ability to hit without using batting gloves to practice. These gloves are worn by many players when batting to improve their grip on the bat and avoid blisters, calluses or other harmful effects on the skin of their hands.

Other baseball players have also admitted to the practice, including former New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and Kerry Wood, who was then a pitcher for the Cubs. Though he didn’t do it regularly, Wood said he tried it when he was having trouble getting rid of the blisters on his hand.

Advantages and disadvantages
This practice might seem gross to many people, but there’s evidence that it might not be a bad idea. Urine is generally sterile, although it may pick up some contaminants as it leaves the body. It also contains urea, a compound that softens the skin.

The urea content in urine, however, is much lower than that of common skin lotions. This means that players would probably get much better results from just using lotion than by weeing their hands. Some scientists believe that players should soak their hands in urine for about five minutes to achieve the same results as using lotions. Urine can also make skin conditions worse for some people, although it may help others.

Another solution

During his playing career, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan used another trick: he dipped his fingers in pickle juice. Like urine, pickle juice was said to harden the skin and prevent blisters from forming. The benefits of this practice have never been proven, but many other players have tried it as well.

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