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Hot Days Turn Pitchers Into Hot Heads

SUNDAY March 27, 2011 -- Baseball pitchers intentionally "bean" more batters in retaliation during hot weather, finds a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 57,000 Major League baseball games from 1952 through 2009 and found that pitchers whose teammates were hit by a pitch were more likely to nail an opposing batter when the temperature reached 90 degrees F than on cooler days.

If the temperatures were in the 50s during a game, there was a 22 percent chance a pitcher would hit a batter if a teammate had been hit by a pitch during the first inning. But the likelihood of such retribution increased to 27 percent if temperatures were in the 90s.

However, if no batters had been hit by a pitch during a game, then hot temperatures had little effect on pitchers' behavior, said the researchers at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Researchers speculated that the uncomfortable weather may make pitchers more likely to interpret the prior hit to their teammate as "deliberate and hostile" rather than accidental, and seek revenge.

"We found that heat does not lead to more aggression in general. Instead, heat affects a specific form of aggression. It increases retribution," Richard Larrick, a management professor, said in a news release.

The study was recently published in the journal Psychological Science.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers baseball safety tips for kids.

Posted: March 2011


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