NBA rules state that “officials shall not permit players to play with any type of jewelry.” (NBA-com) Likewise, “exposed jewelry” is considered “prohibited equipment, apparel” by the NFL. (NFL-com)
More often than not, jewelry is not allowed to be worn by players in a game … except baseball.
Baseball rules don’t specifically come out and say it, but comments within the MLB rules suggest that players can and do wear jewelry.
Such as, “A batter shall not be considered touched by a pitched ball if the ball only touches any jewelry being worn by a player (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, etc.).” (Rule 5.05(b)(2) Comment)
Likewise, in discussion on what a ‘Tag’ is, “For purposes of this definition any jewelry being worn by a player (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, etc.) shall not constitute a part of the player’s body.” (Definitions of Terms)
However, some limitations are put on the pitcher. “The pitcher may not attach anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist (e.g., Band-Aid, tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.).” (Rule 6.02(c)(7) Comment)
Baseball players have picked up on the allowance of wearing necklaces and bracelets in a big way (and sometimes with big chains around their necks).
Some suggest players wear chains and other necklaces for religious beliefs (a lot include crosses with their chains), superstition (they have grown up wearing them and playing without them could impact their play), style/status and/or marketing deals.
It’s not clear when the necklace wearing first started, but some suggest it was George Scott who started to wear a puka shell necklace, and that may have stated the ‘chain gang’ craze.
After the 1971 season the Red Sox traded Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was here that the puka shell made its debut.
When a writer asked him what the necklace was made of, Scott deadpanned, “Second basemen’s teeth.” (ESPN) After five seasons in Milwaukee, Scott returned to Boston for the 1977 season.
He was named to the American League All-Star Team three times and is a member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Then, the bling …
ESPN describes Uni Watch, that touts “the obsessive study of athletics aesthetics”, Chain Gang – “players who insist on wearing necklaces on the field, no matter how impractical or annoying they might be.”
“But not just any necklaced player can make the Chain Gang. Like any good GM, Uni Watch is applying tough, exacting standards.”
“Simply wearing one of those bogus titanium thingies, for example, does not make you a Chain Ganger — it just makes you lame-o. So titanium devotees such as Kameron Loe, Todd Jones and Brandon Webb, among dozens of others, won’t make the cut.”
“Chain Gang roster spots are being reserved, however, for guys who wear anything shiny or knobby, with bonus points if the neckwear frequently emerges into full view, like Schilling’s does.”
“Like every team, the Chain Gang has its superstars.” George Scott made that list, as did Jeff Weaver (“The undisputed king of wayward neckwear, Weaver has the preternatural ability to wrap his gold chain around the right side of his face with virtually every pitch.”
So did Japan’s team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. “You wouldn’t wear a Hawaiian lei on the field, right? But the Japanese WBC squad did the next best (or worst) thing, wearing braided titanium necklaces that lent a distinctly tropical air to the proceedings.”
Likewise, ESPN notes “Chain Gang Old-Timers Day, where the participants could include Joe Black, Ralph Kiner, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Joe Carter, Rickey Henderson and Robbie Alomar (with Joan Payson serving as owner emeritus).” (ESPN)
Gold and/or titanium chains are now so common in Major League Baseball that listing the wearers would be endless. As ESPN notes, “once you start looking, you’ll see it’s actually pretty tough to find players who aren’t sporting on-field bling”.