Baseball is the game that has been around for so long, and it has gone through plenty of improvements from time to time. This game first started in 1846, and it became a professional sport in 1876 through the MLB (Major League Baseball) organization.
Throughout the years, baseball has been improving in all aspects, including the wearable aspects, such as headgears that the baseball players are wearing right now. The baseball helmet (also called the batting helmet), which is a part of the mandatory headgears for baseball players today, has improved throughout the years, following various incidents that have changed the way people play this sport throughout the world.
Starting from just a simple crude headgear that provides the minimum protection for the baseball players, the baseball helmets are getting better in each of their new releases.
Nowadays, we can see the modern baseball helmets that are not only durable, with their excellent protective quality, but these helmets also have various other additional features that can help improve the player’s experience in each match.
For instance, air vents in today’s baseball helmets didn’t exist in the baseball helmets people wore in the 1970s. So, we have come a long way in seeing the better versions of baseball helmets that will keep going better in the future. Let’s dive deeper into the baseball helmet evolution.
There was No Baseball Helmet before 1905
Baseball players didn’t wear helmets before 1905, and there was no need for them to wear a helmet during this time. Baseball caps were the common part of the baseball player’s apparels when there was no baseball helmet.
Many baseball players were wearing the baseball cap during their matches, before the baseball helmet replaced it to provide more protection for the players. However, the process for the baseball players to change from just wearing the baseball cap to wearing the mandatory helmet was quite long and arduous.
Baseball Helmet in 1905-1920
The year 1905 is the year for the first and earliest model of baseball helmet. The earliest model of baseball helmet provides the crude version of the baseball protective headgear. Mogridge created the earliest model of baseball helmet to help protect the head of baseball batters during their matches. This helmet version can only provide minimum protection for the baseball players.
In 1908, Roger Bresnahan introduced a new and more sophisticated version of the baseball helmet. It was a leather helmet that provided better protection for the baseball players. However, the design is still quite simple, and it didn’t provide an ideal protection for the baseball players back then.
Then, in 1920, a tragedy happened during the baseball match where a batter got a severe injury in the head during the pitch. The name of the player was Ray Campbell, and he got killed in this incident. The incident caused quite an uproar in the baseball world, calling for the MLB (Major League Baseball) to mitigate this problem and provide adequate protection for the baseball players. This is the turning point where baseball helmets are becoming even more prevalent in various baseball matches.
1937-1941 – The First Use of Baseball Helmet for the National League
It took many years for the MLB to create the best helmet for the baseball players before it became a mandatory gear, which the baseball players need to wear during the match. In 1937, the first teams got appointed to test the early version of official baseball helmets for the National League. The helmets tested were the leather and polo helmets, and the first teams to test the helmet were the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians.
Next, in 1941, the National League decided they would make the players wear baseball helmets during their matches, and George Bennet, a brain surgeon from Johns Hopkins University, designed the helmet for the National League.
This was a big breakthrough in the baseball world, as this was the first time all teams were required to use the protective helmet during the match. During the spring training sessions, the teams in the National League used the baseball helmet designed by George Bennet. In a gradual process, wearing a baseball helmet becomes the norm for baseball players in the United States.
Baseball Helmet in 1953-1979
The year 1953 was another breakthrough in the world of baseball. In this year, the baseball helmet with the plastic outer shell got introduced to the baseball players. Compared to the previous helmets, the plastic outer shell helmet provides much better protection for the head. During this year, the MLB was very interested in using the plastic outer shell baseball helmet as the standard helmet for all baseball players.
A few years after that, in 1960, the new Little League helmet got introduced, and there was the first player to wear this type of new helmet in the Major League. Jim Lemon was the first player to use this type of helmet. The Little League helmet features the protective shell for the ears. So, it didn’t just protect the upper head area, but it also protected the ears. It could withstand the shock made by the ball coming at 120 miles per hour. After Jim Lemon, Jimmy Piercell followed suit to wear this type of new helmet during the match.
Then, in 1970, as the improved version of the Little League helmet, the C-Flap helmet was introduced by Robert Crow. As a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Robert Crow saw the need to protect the facial area of the baseball players during the match. Thus, the C-Flap was introduced to provide better protection for the head area, which includes the protection for the side of the facial area.
Almost a decade later, in 1979, the new version of the baseball helmet was introduced. The new version didn’t include the C-Flap protection as the previous version. This version was called the non-C-flap batting helmet. During this time, various popular baseball players started using the non-C-flap batting helmet in their baseball matches, which include Otis Nixon, Charlie Hayes, and more.
The Baseball Helmet Evolution in 2006-2013
A few decades after the non-C-flap helmet got introduced, we came across the newest models of baseball helmet in 2006. The new models of baseball helmets were introduced by Rawlings, and these helmets feature the cool air flow around the outer shell of the helmets. These helmets have the sleek aerodynamic design that helped provide a better airflow and a better protection for the baseball players. Also, it was the models of baseball helmets that look cool when you wear them.
In 2007, there was an incident where a baseball coach got hit by the batted ball and died. He was Mike Coolbaugh, a base coach for the Tulsa Drillers. Following the death of the base coach Mike Coolbaugh, there were some debates around the topics of whether baseball coaches need to wear helmets during the matches to protect them from a similar incident.
Then, in 2008, baseball helmets became the norm for base coaches to wear during matches. During this time, the MLB decided base coaches need to wear baseball helmets as the mandatory headgear.
Fast forward to a few years after that, in 2013, Rawlings released a new model of baseball helmet called the S100 Pro Comp. This new model offers better protection features for the head and an even better design than the previous cool vent model. It is also much more lightweight than its predecessor, while providing better durability overall.
The Modern Baseball Helmets of 2018 – Now
Starting in 2018, some players from the MLB wore the C-Flaps helmets, which were becoming a new norm in various baseball matches. Over the years since 2018, more and more baseball helmet models were getting introduced. Many baseball players will look at the head gears used by the top MLB players to find out the best helmet and other related accessories they could wear in their baseball matches.
Now, there are various baseball helmet brands we can find in the market, and each brand offers their own models of baseball helmets. Of course, without leaving the primary feature of the helmet, which is to protect the players from getting hit by the batted balls during the match.
Various models of baseball helmets are now available, and the baseball players can pick their own preferred helmet model to wear during the match. There are also various attachments that you can attach into the helmet to provide a much better protection for the head. The baseball helmets will always go through their own evolution from now on, providing a better design and better protection for the players.
The baseball helmets, as we know today, have undergone a long and arduous process of improvements since the year it was first introduced, which is in 1905. It wouldn’t be surprising if the baseball helmets will improve even more in the coming years, with more features and better protection being added to the helmet. The models we are seeing today will become a part of the ongoing process of improvements for baseball helmets and other related accessories.