Hockey Style Helmet Information
This is a copy of a message board posting I did a couple of years ago.
I placed it here because is keeps dropping off, and many umpires ask me for the information.
I have been umpiring since 1996, the first 5 years using a traditional mask and cap combo.
Being someone who loves trying new technology, last Christmas I bought myself a present from Santa.
The All-Star MVP2200 for $139.00
About 5 minutes into the first game I used it, I was sold ! I recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Field of view in all directions is about 60% greater. You really don't
even notice that there is a mask in front of your face because the opening
wraps around your head and is out of the focal point. I don't take the mask
off except between innings or to talk to someone. You just don't need to. I
have made all my calls with it on and never found it difficult to follow the
play or the ball. It is great not having to rip the thing off a hundred
times a game. Last year when the masks first hit MLB (young guys), the
umpires also were not taking them off for making calls. This year I see that
they are. Most likely they had to succumb to old school senior co-workers
who are still killing themselves wearing a traditional rig. ( I am planning
to post about this.)
One of the reasons I originally considered a full helmet mask was
because several of the fields I work have Cinder Block backstops that are
close in. I have been hit in the back of the head several times by balls
bouncing off. I have taken several hits on the back, side, top and directly
on the nose with this new helmet. Because of the design, the impact is
spread out over 3/4 of your head. A "direct hit" on the nose makes
a funny 'tink' sound but causes no pain or ringing in the ears, and it
doesn't twist to the side on an off center hit.
Even though these helmets extend down farther than a traditional mask,
you still need to use a Throat Protector. You will see that most umpires and
catchers do not use one, but I have already been saved by it once this season.
This thing is really lite and the weight is well balanced. You never
feel like you are dragging your head on a quick look to the side. The weight
is distributed over a large area and uses the same type of padding as in the
new Football helmets. It has a built in sweat band that is removable for
washing. The leather chin pad is also removable. It is much cooler than a
wool cap because it is vented like a bicycle helmet. The slightest breeze
feels like an air conditioner. I work in a very hot area of California, so
this is a really important factor for me. Because you don't have to have the
thing adjusted real tight to keep it from spinning, you don't have the
constant head pressure that you have with a mask. I know some guys who get
headaches from masks if they have to work a double header.
It is just slightly more difficult to put on, but comes off just as
easy as a mask. Because the helmet does not need to be as tight fitting as a
mask and the chin pad does not hold the helmet in place, you can talk just
as if you were not wearing anything. You will be able to say Strike instead
of 'ike'. I sweat a lot, so I have a Golf towel with a clip on it attached
to my water bottle so I can wipe my head and the sweat band down between
innings. I hang my hat on the bottle so I can wear it between innings.
Since you are not wearing a hat, I would advise a hair style and
length that does not look all messed up when you do take off the helmet. Me,
I wear a Crew Cut during umpiring season.
It is a little bulkier to hold while off and writing on the Line-Up
cards, but you get used to balancing it after a few games. The straps use
plastic locks and they do not hold as well as metal, so you have to keep an
eye on the straps to make sure they do not slip out. I usually have to
adjust them a little every couple of games. One person posted that they set
them and then threw in a few stitches to keep them in place. I tried it and
it worked well. Since you will be one of the few, if not the only one,
using a helmet in your area, you will be highly recognized from game to game.
As I get older, I find that comfort becomes as important as functionality.
These helmets don't make you compromise one for the other. There is a reason why
most catchers have switched and why Hockey has been using them for years. You
have my word that if you keep an open mind and give them a fair chance,
you will not be disappointed by trying a helmet.
Best Regards, and Have Great Games,