Aryans Not Supreme After All

There is one positive factor in the Mets’ favor this weekend: both games will be played in the daytime, and Rangers superstar Josh Hamilton is hitting a whopping .122 in daytime games this season.

Why is he hitting so poorly in the daylight? Hamilton offers this explanation:

(from Yahoo)

“I ask guys all the time: Guys with blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever … and guys with blue eyes have a tough time [during the day],” [Hamilton told radio host Bryan Dolgin …].

“It’s just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime. […]

“Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face.”

But wait, it gets better — an enterprising journalist found an optometrist to support this seemingly implausible excuse:

Dr. Richard L. Ison, an optometrist since 1990 who is practicing in Murphy, Texas, said it’s true that having blue eyes makes it tougher to see during the day than those with darker eyes.

“Because of the lack of pigment in lighter color eyes — like blue or green eyes as opposed to brown — you get a lot more unwanted light and that can create glare problems,” Ison said.

Ison said the phenomenon is called intraocular light scatter, meaning the light scatters as it enters, producing a focal point that isn’t as good.

So much for Adolf Hitler’s theory that the blond-haired, blue-eyed people were superior to everyone else. Perhaps Germany would have won WWII if only they avoided daytime battles, eh?

Before you roll your eyes (pardon the pun) at this idea that blue-eyed folks can’t hit well in the daytime, you might want to consider the research. There is definitely scientific evidence about the blue-eye / bright light phenomenon. The only reason I know this is because my (blue-eyed) grandfather suffered from macular degeneration, and from research I learned that people with blue eyes may be susceptible to the disease because:

Melanin, the substance that gives eyes their color, protects the macula by trapping light rays so they don’t reach the macula and cause damage. People with fair skin and blue or light-colored eyes may be particularly susceptible to macular damage by blue light because they have less melanin in their irises. Their blue eyes transmit up to one hundred times as much light to the back of the eye as dark colored eyes do. Additionally, when the light reaches the choroid and RPE of people with fair skin and blue eyes, there is less melanin there to absorb the radiant energy, leaving these tissues more vulnerable to light damage.

Why hasn’t anyone before noticed that blue-eyed players don’t hit well during the day? Maybe because it hasn’t been all that common. And probably because prior to modern stadium lighting, vision was more difficult for everyone during night games. Further, it may be possible that this “handicap” is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It could be that Hamilton’s issue is more mental than anything else; once something gets in your head, it’s hard to get it out.

Of course, Hamilton can counteract the daylight issues with some eye black and a pair of these snazzy blue-blockers:

What do you think? Is this a bunch of nonsense? Is it plausible?

And hey, if you happen to be an eye specialist, we would especially like to hear your opinion.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike June 25, 2011 at 11:02 am
    I’m no specialist, but I do have blue eyes. People with brown eyes typically don’t understand when I try to describe what a bright day is like. Headaches from excessive light is common. Glare, which can come from reflection during the day and at night from light sources looks like a bright cross like you see in this picture

    This is something you will see with cameras. If you have brown eyes, does bright light always appear like this? If not then you are lucky.

    But is Josh Hamilton making excuses? Yes. Wear sunglasses like the rest of us.

  2. Connor June 26, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Wow. When I clicked on this article, there was an add in the sidebar for glasses. Ironic…
    • Mike June 27, 2011 at 11:18 am
      You realize Google spends billions on research for reading content on websites and (yes) your emails to give better and more appropriate ads? Everything Google does is just a vehicle for their money making service AdSense. Google offers free email, maps, and a gamut of other services completely free so that you see more ads. The they are at providing ads, the more likely you are to click on one, the more companies interested in using Google to advertise and thus the more money for Google.
  3. argonbunnies June 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm
    This all strikes me as obvious. The only weird part is that Hamilton went public with it.

    Yeah, glare is an issue for baseball players, moreso in sunny day games, moreso if you have light-colored eyes. Duh. This has always been true, and there are all sorts of strategies to combat it. Paint-on eyeblack, stick-on cheek pads, dark sunglasses, orange sunglasses, contacts, etc.

    We probably should expect most light-eyed hitters to do somewhat worse during day games. None of the solutions are perfect — sunglasses can move, glint, and provide all sorts of distractions with light creeping in around the periphery.

    But Hamilton’s 250-pt gap in average? No way. It’s either a fluke or it’s in his head. Maybe it started as one and became the other. That seems to happen a lot in baseball.