Glasses and goggles have always played an important role in the lives of athletes, especially throughout the history of baseball. Over the years, countless baseball players have increased both skill and sportsmanship with the use of glasses, eventually transitioning into sports goggles. These glasses and goggles changed the way athletes saw the ball and reacted on the field, ultimately creating a more competitive and exciting atmosphere for both players and fans.
It was once considered embarrassing and unprofessional to wear“spectacles”during a game or sports match. In fact, many talent scouts would reject players based solely on the fact that they were wearing glasses. Some players, however, were willing to take the first step to incorporate glasses in order to see more clearly. One such player was criticized over and over again until an interviewer finally asked why he wore glasses during the game. Earl Torgeson, one of the early pioneers, replied,“Because I want to be able to see.”
The very first major league player who wore glasses was Will ‘Whoop-la’ White during the years of 1878-1886. Up through the 1920′s, only pitchers dared to wear spectacles, as it was still considered embarrassing at the time. These pitchers were the exception, as their vision was most important and required less running throughout the game. George ‘Specs’ Topercer of the St. Louis Cardinals was the first player to ever sport glasses while in the outfield sometime in the early 1920′s. This was a rare occasion that eventually shaped the way many players would address any eyesight issues in the future. Other notable players then began wearing glasses to improve their game on the field, starting first with pitchers and slowly working through the outfielders. Some of these pitchers include Mel Harder, Vic Sorrell, Nate Robertson, Brett Cecil, Kyle Farnsworth and more. Other outfielders then began wearing glasses, including Bob Dillinger, Dick Allen, the first American League MVP to wear glasses, Freddie Freeman, Darrell Porter, Chris Sabo and many more. Stan Lopata was the first national league catcher to wear glasses, becoming a modern pioneer for bespectacled players and fans around the world.
In the late 1940′s, shatterproof glasses were introduced to the market, making the acceptance of spectacles on the field more reasonable. By the 1960′s, it was estimated that nearly 20% of all major league players wore glasses while on the field. It was at this stage that the transition from glasses to goggles took place. The idea of glasses or spectacles being embarrassing had more or less faded, providing a more bias-free game for both fans and talent scouts alike. More and more major league players wore glasses throughout the game, some desperate for an alternative that would keep their eyesight clear while simultaneously allowing more movement and freedom. Sports goggles were then introduced to players throughout the world. Goggles provided a crystal clear image (using player specific prescriptions) that fit better, looked better and extended past the eyes, providing a clear image even with player’s peripherals. Many players took kindly to the idea of goggles, wearing them throughout games, practice and more. Players depended on the wide use of goggles to see the ball clearly, whether it was in the air dropping down in front of them or in the corner of their eyes.
Today, goggles have become a huge part of modern day baseball. Players throughout the world sport these goggles in order to see more clearly and provide a more exciting and dependable performance all around.