Batter's eye

Batter's eye

The batter's eye (short for batter's eye screen) is a solid-colored, usually dark area beyond the center field wall of a baseball stadium, that is the visual backdrop directly in the line of sight of a baseball batter, while facing the pitcher and awaiting a pitch. This dark surface allows the batter to see the pitched ball against a sharply contrasted and uncluttered background. Its primary purpose is the safety of the batter. The use of a batter's background has been standard in baseball (as well as cricket) since at least the late 1800s. The Batter's Eye performs the same role at a baseball venue as the sightscreen does at a cricket venue, except that a cricket sightscreen is usually white in order to contrast with the dark red cricket ball.

The area is usually painted or otherwise decorated in black or dark green or some other color dark enough to allow batters to track the flight of the white ball. If there are seats behind center field, they are painted a dark color and are not occupied during baseball games, as the "black bleachers" section is directly in front of them. If fans were allowed to sit in this section, it would create an unfair pitcher's advantage, in addition to raising the batter's exposure to danger, as it would make it more difficult for the batter to track the ball if a substantial number of fans were wearing white shirts.

One example of a batter's background is the black area in the center-field bleachers section of Yankee Stadium, known as the Black Seats. At one time, there were seats where the black area is now, but because of distractions the seats were removed and the area painted black. (Before the stadium's mid-1970s renovation, a batter's eye screen was often put up in front of the section.)

At Fenway Park in Boston, the batter's eye is made by laying a large black tarp over a section of the center field bleachers. During day games, the seats will not be sold so the tarp can be laid down; however, during night games, when the batter is more likely to be able to see the ball regardless of the backdrop, the seats are sold. This has often created unusual seating arrangements during night games that are made up during part of a day-night doubleheader as the sections remain uncovered for the people who have purchased the seats. The Red Sox have solved this problem by handing out T-shirts of the same color to these fans to wear during the game.

At Wrigley Field, the centerfield bleachers used to be closed off and covered by a tarpaulin, and later by juniper plants. There is now a shaded luxury suite there referred to by the Cubs as the "Batter's Eye Suite". [http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ticketing/suites.jsp]

Some stadiums have rotating billboards in this area. In this case, advertisements are displayed in between innings, while a dark surface is rotated in while the game is in play. This method is used at Shea Stadium in New York, [Noble, Marty. [http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050411&content_id=1012031&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb Notes: Early bird gets the worm] , MLB.com, April 11, 2005. Accessed September 15, 2007.] and at PETCO Park in San Diego. [ Center, Bill. [http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040925/news_1s25padnotes.html "A green solution for Batter's Eye"] , "The San Diego Union-Tribune", September 25, 2004. Accessed September 122007. ]

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida has a restaurant called the Batter's Eye Restaurant. [http://www.sptimes.com/THEOPENER/40198/Where_sports_fans_can.html] New Yankee Stadium is scheduled to have a restaurant with dark tinted glass that will serve as the batter's eye.

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