Although it is unusual, and the benefits of doing so are unclear, some baseball players do pee on their hands. The most common reasons cited are to toughen the skin, to soften the skin, and to prevent or treat blisters or calluses. Urine contains an organic compound called urea, which also is produced commercially and included in many moisturizing skin creams.
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 the skin and prevent calluses. Alou, who played for the Chicago Cubs at the time, said he did not know where he learned this trick, but he credited the practice with his ability to hit without using batting gloves. These gloves are worn by many players while batting to improve their grip on the bat and to avoid blisters, calluses or other harmful effects on the skin of the hands.
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Other baseball players have also admitted to the practice, including Jorge Posada, a former catcher for the New York Yankees, and Kerry Wood, who was then a pitcher for the Cubs. Although he did not do it regularly, Wood said he tried it when he was having difficulty getting rid of blisters on his hand.
Benefits and Drawbacks
This practice might seem disgusting to many people, but there is evidence that it might not be an entirely bad idea. Urine generally is sterile, although it might pick up some contaminants as it leaves the body. It also contains urea, a compound which does soften the skin.
The urea content of urine, however, is much lower than that of common skin lotions. This means that players probably would achieve much better results from simply using lotion than from peeing on their hands. Some scientists believe that, to achieve the same results as using lotions, players would have to soak their hands in urine for about five minutes. Urine also can worsen skin conditions for some people, although it might help others.
During his playing career, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan used another trick: he would soak his fingers in pickle juice. Like urine, the pickle juice was alleged to toughen 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.