Everyone knows John Olerud used to wear a helmet while playing the field, and so have a few other MLB players over the years. But check out this shot of a 1973 Clemson University game — the pitcher’s wearing a helmet! Dan Snider, who sent me the photo, explains: “They were in the process of building what is now the Athletic Department building (the Jervey Athletic Center), so the entire team wore helmets that year in case of falling debris from the construction.”
Helmeted pitchers are rare but not unheard of. When Pirates GM Branch Rickey introduced helmets in 1953, he envisioned them replacing caps altogether, so he coated the fiberglass lids with wool flocking to simulate the look of a cloth cap and had his players wear them in the field — even pitchers. That experiment didn’t last long. More recently, though, college pitcher John Fortenberry, who lost an eye after being struck by a batted ball, has worn a helmet and cage-style mask.
And then of course there’s Tom Glavine…..
Uni Watch News Ticker: Speaking of pitchers and helmets, Reds pitcher Elizardo Ramirez bats right-handed, but he stepped up to the plate on Tuesday night wearing a left-handed helmet (i.e., with the earflap on the wrong side). The ump brought this to his attention, so he walked over to the dugout to get a proper helmet — but the new one was also left-handed, forcing him to return to the dugout yet again. Finally, he returned to the plate with his earflap where it belonged. The kicker: He singled on the next pitch (big thanks to Trace Tendick for the tip). … The “LA” patch on the Dodgers’ left sleeve has been missing from Kenny Lofton’s jersey in recent games (although it was there earlier in the season). … Last week I talked about the growing trend of athletes looking like comic book superheroes (the full discussion is toward the bottom of this entry). Latest case in point: Adam Melhuse’s catching gear. … Anyone who digs striped socks (not that I’d know anything about that myself) needs to see — or maybe enroll at — Pacific Lutheran University, a Division III school in Tacoma, Washington. … On the subject of the weird doohickey on Kenji Johjima’s catching helmet (apparently intended to help keep his mask’s strap in place — initial discussion here), Jay Greening checks in with this: “I don’t know who makes it, but I can vouch for its usefulness, in a roundabout way. I have quite a sizeable head (7-7/8, ‘roid-free), and when I caught in high school, given the shape and size of my helmet, the strap was slipping literally with every pitch. If I had to throw to 2nd or 3rd, the mask came off and went flying to my left. So I made a thin roll of athletic tape, about 3 inches long, then taped it to my lid. The strap went below the roll and held in place. As for why he didn’t wear it in Japan, didn’t his team have the raised logo on the helmet? [Sure enough, they did.] That could have served the same function.” … Still more mood indigo at Shea yesterday, as the Mets wore blue for an amazing fourth straight game. That streak will presumably end tonight, as the team goes on the road, where this is their official look.
I won’t be posting much, if at all, over the long weekend. Have a great holiday, and see you back here on Tuesday.