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Old 07-18-2005, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 420
Minor league batting helmets

My friend and I were watching the Frontier League All Star game last night and noticed that all the players had helmets with ear covers on both sides, as opposed to major league players who only have ear protection on the side facing the pitcher. We then realized that all pro ball players we've seen below the Majors has the double ear cover.

Is there a reason for this? I could understand that a kid playing for the Frontier league doesn't have much money and would just use the helmets provided by the team. But a lot of AAA players have nice signing bonuses and could easily afford a much better looking single ear helmet. Is this a rule or something? When a major league star goes down to the minors for a rehab stint, does he have to wear the 2 eared helmet?

These are the things that keep me up at night.


Old 07-18-2005, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: 430 W. Vine St., Sec. 39
Posts: 3,612
I'd wager that the team just buys a set of helmets in varying sizes with double ear flaps. After all, a player may be with a team for a month or a year, so custom helmets would be a tremendous waste of time.

I don't know this for sure, but I might call our local team (the Astros' A-ball affiliate) and ask what the policy is, if no one has a definitive cite.
Old 07-18-2005, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 420
I'm sure that's correct for the most part, but some kid out of college who just got a big signing bonus and most likely will stay in his team's farm system for a while could easily justify spending a few extra bucks on a custom helmet.
Old 07-18-2005, 03:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: DC
Posts: 7,521
Originally Posted by GildedLily
I'm sure that's correct for the most part, but some kid out of college who just got a big signing bonus and most likely will stay in his team's farm system for a while could easily justify spending a few extra bucks on a custom helmet.
Sure, but why bother? Plus, he'd have to get a new one every time he moved up or down or got traded. And he may not get more than a day's notice that he's being called up or demoted, so he'd have to order, wait for them to make the helmet, and then wait for him to get back home where they would have shipped it to him.

In the end, it's just not worth the hassle.
Old 07-19-2005, 11:02 AM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 2,738
The simple answer to the OP's question is because it's the rule. MLB adopted a rule in 1983 that all minor league players must use helmets with double ear flaps, and all major league players must use helmets with single or double ear flaps (players choice). Most players prior to that time wore helemts with no ear flaps, and players who were in the majors in 1982 could continue to go flapless if they wanted. It's codified in MLB rule 1.16, sections a through c

So yes, a major leaguer does have to wear the double flap helmet if he is sent to the minors for whatever reason. I've seen that in practice a couple of times this summer.

The rule was adopted (obviously) for safety reasons. In just about every sport, when these sort of measures are adopted, current players complain that the new rule hampers their abilty to perform. It happened with the requierment for visors in hockey, for facemasks in football, and for most of the driver safety devices in auto racing. The rear flap on the batting helmet (right side for right handed batters, left side for left handed batters) doesn't serve any purpose at the plate. A player can't get hit by a pitch there. However, the extra flap does provide some extra protection on the base paths. Runners are occasionally struck by a thrown ball, and in addition to protecting the ear, the flaps help to keep the helmet from coming off while a player is running and/or sliding.
Old 07-19-2005, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 2,268
Just to dot every possible i on this thread, Gary Gaetti was the last man to play major league baseball with no ear-flap on his helmet (I only know that because he ended his career with the Cubs, and one of the announcers noted that he was the only current MLB player w/o the flaps).
Old 07-19-2005, 03:26 PM
CC CC is offline
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Posts: 4,293
back in the day

Prior to the widespread acceptance of (requirement to wear) helmets, for a few years some major league players took to wearing a plastic insert under their cloth caps. Overcoming the macho style of just taking a chance against a Gibson or a Drysdale, (around the same time that hockey goalies were giving masks a try), the game underwent a transformation in the way it was played. Soon, rules prohibited pitching tight, despite the proliferation of - beyond full helmets - shin guards and elbow pads, and the game changed. Next thing you'll see will be little kids riding tiny bikes with training wheels in their driveways wearing helmets. The pansies! xo, C.
I have an above average number of arms (2).
Old 07-19-2005, 05:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: The Golden State
Posts: 10,565
The only players who really need double flap helmets are left-handed batters. That's because when they slide into second or third, they are liable to be hit in the head by a throw from the catcher. Right-handed batters already have the flap to protect them.

However, I suppose a right-handed hitter could be hit in the side of the head by a throw coming in from the outfield
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