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Justin Turner’s jersey stain: An investigation

Your deepest questions, answered
@michaelsclair
October 22, 2020

If you've ever watched Justin Turner, there's probably a few questions you've always wondered about. Namely, "What would have happened if he stayed with the Mets?" or "Was he the inspiration for Gritty?" And, perhaps most oddest of all, "What is up with that giant stain on Justin Turner's back?

If you've ever watched Justin Turner, there's probably a few questions you've always wondered about. Namely, "What would have happened if he stayed with the Mets?" or "Was he the inspiration for Gritty?" And, perhaps most oddest of all, "What is up with that giant stain on Justin Turner's back?

Does he hate his last name and he is trying to obscure it for the cameras? Is it a design feature -- like an artist painting a canvas? Is it a physical manifestation of guilt, like he's the main character in a gothic horror staring at the ceiling and wondering why that crack is forever growing larger?

Turns out, the answer is so much simpler than all of that:

“When I take my practice swings, I try to exaggerate finishing, and my bat comes down over my left shoulder, leaving a pine tar stain," Turner told Los Angeles magazine in 2018. Ah, OK, that makes sense.

Though Turner may be the only big league player with such a recognizable pine tar mark, plenty of players love the stuff. Almost every player uses at least some to get a good grip on their bat, while others like the Rays' Brandon Lowe coat their helmets in pine tar. And that's without ever even touching on George Brett and the famous "Pine Tar Incident."

Oddly enough, the other active player to have a recognizable pine star stain on his jersey was actually Turner's former teammate Matt Kemp. While with Los Angeles, Kemp could usually be seen with a splotch of the stuff on his shoulder. It was even famous enough that when the Dodgers made a bobblehead for Kemp in 2018, the figurine included the stain, too.

Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.