The e-mails started coming in on Tuesday evening — not a ton of them, but a steady trickle, all from readers who said something like this: “I’m watching the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech baseball game, and Tech is wearing some seriously weird-ass batting helmets.”
I couldn’t find the game on TV (apparently it was on Fox College Sports, or some other channel I don’t get), so I started poking around Ga. Tech’s web site, figuring I’d find some photos from other games. But all the pics seemed to show pretty basic batting helmets.
Fortunately, reader Brent Hardman was at the game (that’s him and his wife, Christy, posing with the UGA mascot, Hairy Dawg), and he had his camera. To see what he saw, look here, here, and here. Yowza! “Looks like a cross between the Arena League and Top Gun-style fighter helmets,” writes Hardman — a pretty astute analysis, I’d say.
As you can see, the helmets say “Worth” on the back. I’d heard of the Worth brand before but didn’t know much about it, so I went to their site and discovered that they’ve been around since the early 1900s and were among the pioneers of aluminum bats (which, according to their corporate timeline, were at one point used by prison guards to quell an inmate riot — gee, there’s a proud moment). Their current line of fielder’s gloves all have comic book-esque names like the Silencer, the Mayhem, and the Avenger, which should give you an idea of what sort of market they’re aiming for these days. They also make a chest protector that sort of looks like it has pockets.
Anyway: The helmet model being worn by Georgia Tech is the Worth Prodigy. Obviously, all the stripes and color inlays are designed to create a branded look, same as with the Cool-Flo (no surprise, since Worth and Rawlings, which makes the Cool-Flo, are both owned by K2).
One thing I noticed right away is that the Prodigy shown in basic stock photos has a dial in the back (this is presumably what the Worth web site describes as the helmet’s “dial-adjustable ring fit system”), but this dial is missing from the Tech helmets, which seems to leave the lower part of the head exposed. And I’m not the only one who noticed that: When I called Tech’s sports info department to learn more about the helmets, spokesperson Cheryl Watts told me, unprompted, “I don’t know if you noticed, but it comes up very high in the back. Some of us in the press box were like, ‘Does that cover his head?’ ”
Watts also explained that Tuesday wasn’t the first time Tech had worn the new lids — they’d also worn them last weekend against N.C. State. “Worth, who’s our bat and glove sponsor, approached us earlier in the season, and Coach [Danny] Hall said we could try them out,” she said. “That’s how we got started with them. When we saw them, we were all like, ‘Oh, gosh,’ just because they look so different.”
I asked Watts a few additional questions, and she later e-mailed back with the following info:
• Worth had a prototype at the last Coaches’ Convention and asked if Tech players would wear the helmet, and Coach Hall said that they probably would.
• The team just received the helmets in recently, which is why they hadn’t worn them earlier in the season.
• They intend to wear them at home games only, and it won’t be every home game either. We have a huge helmet case that we travel with, which can only hold one of the two sets of helmets that we have — and since we have worn the blue with everything in the past, it’s just more logical to take those.
Watts had also hoped to provide me with some reactions from the players, but that hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, the most interesting thing about the Prodigy is that is that it continues the move toward batting helmets that look nothing like caps. I’ll let you decide whether you think that’s a good thing (I’m sure you can guess where I stand).
Research Project: Reader David Smalling suggests that all the fuss regarding Schilling’s sock presents a good opportunity to create a gallery of bloody uniforms — a good idea, if we can get enough of them. Know of any good pics? Send your tips here.
Meanwhile, XXXXXL-sized thanks to everyone who contributed numerological suggestions for yesterday’s ESPN column. I literally couldn’t have done this one without you, people — can’t even begin to tell you have much I appreciate it, and I’m truly sorry I couldn’t thank all of you by name.
Hell Jade on Wheels: I’m in the market for a used car, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I’d like it to be green. Thought I had a deal last week to buy a green Civic, but it fell through (don’t even ask), and I’m having a tough time tracking down another emerald chariot. So: If anyone in the NYC area knows of a small-ish used green car for sale, $10,000 or less, please get in touch.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Interesting article here about how several of the Red Sox are wearing little pedometers on their shoes. … Man, I warned them about this way back in November. … Great article here about the patches worn by New York City firefighters. … Rugby news from New Zealand, where the All Blacks have a new jersey (with thanks to Caleb Borchers). … Nice catch regarding Carmelo Anthony’s out-of-date sweatpants here. … Latest reason to move to St. Louis: According to an item toward the bottom of this page, most of the Cardinals have stopped wearing the new BP caps (good catch by Adam Morris and Elena Elms). … Interesting note from Greg Necastro, who ordered himself a Montgomery Biscuits cap (yes, best team name ever, best mascot ever, and so on) and was surprised to discover that “the majority of the graphic is an appliqué sewn onto the cap, but the feet are separate and [embroidered] directly onto the hat panels. … I emailed the retail manager for the Biscuits. He said he really didn’t know why the cap was done like that but that it’s been that way since New Era made the first hat back in 2003.” … Shouldn’t there be some rule about yellow vs. orange? Additional pics here, here, and here, but trust me, none of these shots really captures how bright this game was. I don’t think they even bothered to turn on the lights in the arena. … Wondering where Michael Irvin gets those bizarro suits? Okay, probably not, but look here anyway (with thanks to Randy Miller). … Brian Urlacher’s contraband cap is doing brisk business on eBay. … According to a small item buried at the bottom of this page, the Steelers will unveil a 75th-season throwback uni today. If they follow the Eagles’ example and try to match their 1933 design, they’ll end up with something like this (much like what they wore for the NFL’s 1994 throwback program). … Update: No such luck regarding the Steelers’ throwbacks — full gallery of pics available here.