No one will ever argue that the catcher has the most dangerous position in baseball. With wild pitches, foul tops, and thrown bats, catchers put themselves in the line of fire with very little protection. Major League Baseball reinforced the danger in the position when they changed the rules in 2013 about collisions at home plate. Professional catchers often have shorter careers than outfielders and infielders, simply because of the physical trauma they experience on a regular basis. From concussions and knee injuries and elbow strains to foot contusions, catchers truly do put their bodies through regular abuse.
The Dangerous Position in the Early Days
Fortunately, catchers gear has come a long way since the beginning of the game. The original catchers in the 19th century did not wear any type of protective gear other than a pair of fingerless leather mittens. In fact, in the earliest days of baseball, all players caught with their bare hands. Over the years, catchers’ mitts have evolved from fingerless gloves with large cushioned pads in front to the high-tech leather mitts that catchers wear today.
Changing Catchers’ Mitts
Like the mitts, catchers’ face masks have also changed through the decades. The first catchers wore mouth guards like a boxer would wear. The first catcher’s mask was made of steel mesh and padding and was worn in the 1880s. These masks allowed catchers make fewer errors, simply because they knew they had some protection. The wire mesh and leather padded masks stayed popular until the 1990s when some catchers began wearing masks that resemble hockey goalie masks. Throat protectors made their debut in the 1970s as the style of catching changed; catchers began to prefer the one-handed method which made the throat more exposed than the two-handed method that kept the throat covered with the chin being tucked.
The Evolution of the Face Mask
At M^Powered, we offer two options for face masks for catchers. The first is the traditional cage face mask made of solid wire frame and synthetic leather findings. This mask is a favorite with catchers because it offers premium protection and a useful line of sight. This mask pairs nicely with our throat protector made of polyethylene plastic and emblazoned with the M^Powered logo. We also have the hockey style helmet made of polycarbon resin. This is not an actual hockey mask; it is designed especially for catchers and comes with throat protection. The field of sight is strong with this style of mask, too. It is made of Noscae Approved Micro Carbon composite and has leatherette findings. Both masks are popular with catchers and is really a matter of personal preference. The hockey-style mask offers more protection on the back of the head and is a good choice for younger catchers who have shorter backstops and wilder pitchers.
Keep the Chest Protected
Face masks and mitts are not the only protective gear that is vital to a catcher’s safety. In the early days of baseball, catchers who wore protective gear were called sissies by the fans. The earliest chest protectors were usually worn under jersey so the fans would not complain about the catcher’s manliness. Wives of catchers were the first people to make chest protectors, so they made them out of sheepskin or canvas. One of the earliest chest protectors had a bladder that could be inflated with air for protection. Later, chest protectors had the same kind of foam padding that was used in life preservers. Now, they are made of ballistic materials that are lightweight and breathable. The latest models are half the weight of the early chest protectors that were used during the 1940s.
High Quality Gear Keeps Catchers Safe
Our M^Powered catching gear is made of high-tech material like memory foam as well as compressed polyethylene plastic board and PVC sponge leather. The EVA liner and woven fabric keep it lightweight. The memory foam allows the ball to safely bounce off of the protector. Our shin guards are made of similar materials and they are design to protect the shins, toes, and toe nails, too.
In order for baseball to continue to be the best game in the world, we take pride in keeping the game safe with our high-tech and high-quality safety gear for catchers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-NO-CORKS (or 1-877-662-6757).