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Protective caps for pitchers approved

Jan 28, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

mccarthy getty Getty Images

ESPN’s William Weinbaum reports that MLB has approved protective caps for pitchers the first time. Use is optional, and caps will be made available for all pitchers beginning next month in spring training. We first heard word that this was coming from Brandon McCarthy, himself a victim of a vicious comebacker a couple of years ago. Some details:

The company says the caps are a little over half-an-inch thicker in the front and an inch thicker on the sides — near the temples — than standard caps, and afford protection for frontal impact locations against line drives of up to 90 mph and for side impact locations at up to 85 mph.

The cap weighs seven ounces more than normal caps which, themselves, only weigh three or four ounces.

I’m all for added protection. But there is one pretty interesting fact here that I didn’t know before:

Four of the five pitchers who were hit in the head since Sept. 2012, including those most seriously injured — McCarthy, Happ and Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb — were struck below the cap line. MLB, however, hasn’t contemplated exploring protective headgear for pitchers with broader coverage, such as a visor, mask or helmet, said Halem. “There would have to be widespread willingness among players to use such a device.”

This puts me in mind of the move to get base coaches to wear batting helmets following the death of Mike Coolbaugh a few years ago. This despite the fact that the ball which killed Coolbaugh struck him far below the helmet line, actually near the base of his head where it meets his neck. Not to say that added protection is a bad thing. It’s clearly not. Just that no one should expect that the new protection provides a greater measure of safety than it actually does. It will still be dangerous out there for players in the line of fire.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see who adopts the new cap. And whether transition to it interferes with pitching mechanics or comfort in any way.


  1. jm91rs - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    This is a logical step. Pretty much all youth baseball leagues require pitchers to wear helmets. Those kids will likely be required to do the same by high school and it will feel natural to them to continue it into the pros eventually.

    • wjarvis - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      That’s not really the case when you compare it to other major sports though, while some players will wear extra protection, many won’t until the league mandates it and most wear less. Knee pads in the NFL for example, and for hockey many players are required to wear a full cage for most of their career and then many times decided to not even wear a visor in the NHL.

      That said, I think something like a cricket helmet for pitchers could eventually become common in the future.

  2. tmhofficial - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    It just seems like a no brainer.

  3. historiophiliac - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Hey @Pharrell, can I have my hat back? — @BMcCarthy32

  4. apmn - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    It’s all puffy, like the pirates used to wear.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    If you stuff packets of pine tar in there in adds a little extra protection.

    -Kenny Rogers

  6. eriknatsfan - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I jus got off the phone with the CEO of Isoblox, Bruce Foster. Nice guy. Very accessible. He said that the kids’ version would be available for purchase around the end of March at places like Dick’s, Modell’s, their website etc. It will be an insert that goes inside the player’s regular little league hat. I’m getting one as soon as they come out for my son.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      totally agree. Good call.

      Now, about dem shattering bats….

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        Seriously, someone should write about those bats!

  7. garlicfriesandbaseball - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    GFBB Note: It’s going to be interesting to see how many of the pitchers will be wearing the new caps. They don’t look much different so it won’t be noticeable, and, since statistics show that most of the serious head injuries result from a hit below the cap line, it might take awhile for this to catch on. But at least it’s a start.

  8. ez4u2sa - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    This should have been done a long time ago, The other step that is long over due is to go back to a bat that doesn’t shatter with the frequency that maple bats do. Talk about an unnecessary risk!

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