As part of a push to reduce brain injuries in youth sports, sporting goods giant Easton-Bell has developed a prototype helmet for baseball pitchers. Easton's CEO introduced the product Wednesday as he stood next to Gunnar Sandberg, a 17-year-old high school pitcher who had to be put into a medically induced coma after being hit in the head with a batted ball a year ago. The helmet is made of expanded polystyrene polycarbonate with a comfortable liner, and can shield pitchers "without sacrificing contact and performance," the company says. But is such protection necessary for a non-contact sport? (See a photo of the helmet)
What is not to like? "I, for one, think it's an awesome idea," says Casey Chan at Gizmodo. The material is "super lightweight and good at absorbing energy." Plus, the helmet actually looks cool — "like something you'd imagine future baseball players to wear." Yes, "old-fogey baseball purists will probably disagree," but pitcher helmets are a great idea.
"Baseball pitchers may need to wear futuristic helmets to protect their brain"
This will take time to catch on: The helmet "looks goofy," says Peter Abraham at The Boston Globe, and "I suspect if I asked all the Red Sox pitchers in camp, none would admit to wanting to wear it." But "there was a time in baseball when catchers didn't wear a mask," and batters didn't think to protect their heads. So while "it might take 10 years" to become the norm, "the day is coming when a pitcher wears a helmet."
"A helmet for pitchers?"
It is weird... but necessary: Aesthetically speaking, "I really don't want to see pitchers wearing helmets," says Rob Neyer at SB Nation. Though I suppose that's only "because I've never seen them before — just as I haven't gotten used to base coaches wearing helmets." But hey, I "also really don't want pitchers getting skulled out there" by line drives, so it seems reasonable to do what it takes to protect them.
"Like it or not, here come helmets for pitchers"
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