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Radie

My "Starter Kit" Strategy... Thoughts?

13 posts in this topic

Quick backstory in bullet form:

- I've known the game of baseball like the back of my hand since I was 3. You could argue that Hockey has somewhat stolen my heart, but this game was my first love and I still follow it religiously.

- My father was an umpire and I grew up watching the game from both the player and umpire perspective.

- I've lead what many would call a "hectic" (though not entirely terrible) life and have never had a chance to really put some roots down somewhere enough to start Umpiring. 

 

The point of all of that is to say that I've ALWAYS been an umpire, I'm just now getting a chance to really be one. I'm not someone who is "trying this out" for a bit or doing it just to make a few extra dollars. This is in my blood (as I assume many of you feel) and now that I am settled, I can start my journey right, which as we all know, involves gearing up properly.

Last season I worked about 50 Little League games using the leagues gear (except for NB Plate Shoes, which I purchased) which wasnt the best. Heck, I even used one of those big external "pillow" pads with the handles for a while (which admittedly brought back memories of playing with similar ones my dad used to have, but I digress). The assignor of the league is associated with a popular and successful Umpiring Association in NYC and suggested I sign up with them to take the next step and do higher level games.

Obviously, it was time to invest in myself for this season. I looked into various starter packages but none of them really did it for me. I did A LOT of research online, especially here. I read virtually every review of every piece of gear in my price range. I read every single article on Ump-Attire and watched every single video on their YouTube channel.

 

In the end, the decision I made was based on what I have seen mentioned in here COUNTLESS times: "Get the best that you can afford". I know that buy writing these next few lines, I am establishing myself as an arch enemy to @MadMax, as I know he thinks this is one of the worst things a new ump can do but let me explain myself...

I purchased the following: (obviously from @JimKirk's amazing U-A)

- Wilson Dyna-Lite Aluminum Mask with Memory foam.

- 6" Throat Protector

- Wilson West Vest Gold CP (12 3/4")

- Nutty Buddy and Jock

- Wilson West Vest Gold Leg Guards

- New Balance Base Shoes (Mid Cut)

- 2x Balls-First 4 Dial (Yellow) indicator

Total: $497

In the next few weeks, I plan on purchasing a proper equipment bag (I got something that will work for now) and one of @Razzer's harnesses. Maybe even the Force 3 thigh pads.

My reasons for doing this are: I want to feel protected. But I still couldn't get the BEST stuff on the market. This basically eliminated F3 for the time being... Despite MM's stance, far too many other people speak highly enough of the Wilson Gold and Platinums that I settled on those.... I have spent my life as a catcher and have also played Football and Hockey, basically I have spent my whole life strapping things to my body. Comfort was never going to be an issue so I knew I was going Gold over Plat based on reviews and my preferences. 

I feel like this will work for me because I won't be seeing really high level ball for a few seasons and I think this will cover me pretty squarely until then. At which point I plan on upgrading to mostly F3 gear (still not sold on their leg guards though).

I do worry that maybe I should have dropped an extra $40 on the F3 Defender as an obvious upgrade to the Dyna-Lite but I needed that money to go to decent base shoes. I also wish I had the cash to do this month's ago so I could have gotten more feedback, but it is what it is. 

Anyone want to chime in here? Tips? Suggestions? Critiques?

FYI - I already have ball bags and brushes and pants from last year. No need to suggest those.  

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@Radie

Just out of curiosity, what don't you like about the Force3 shin guards? I personally love that they are low-profile and I don't feel a thing when I get nailed by uncaught pitches.

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You made some excellent choices.  Nothing (IMHO) to criticize.  

As you move along, you may find that there are features of your gear that you don't like and you want to try something else. Or you may find that you are perfectly happy with what you have chosen.  The important thing is that you have adequate protection that keeps you out of the ER, off the disabled list and on the field.

So much of what you read here is also personal preference.  As you noted, many folks here swear by the Unequal chest protector.  God bless.  Me? You can have my platinum when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. 

Good luck and don't suck!!! (Have some fun along the way as well.)

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21 minutes ago, codizzle said:

@Radie

Just out of curiosity, what don't you like about the Force3 shin guards? I personally love that they are low-profile and I don't feel a thing when I get nailed by uncaught pitches.

@codizzle

Again, based on just reviews, descriptions and pics... The main thing was not having a hard shell on the ankles. It sounds silly, but I did a school project on the ankle WAY back in high school and ever since then, I've had a terrible fear of anything happening to my ankles. I understand that the F3s have some really sick padding there (looks like a damn golf ball) which is awesome, and probably wouldon't be a deal breaker by itself, but I am also not a fan of the snap buckles and I REALLY wanted a 3rd knee. 

Seems like the Golds scratches my itches better then the F3 on Leg Guards. So unless I come across someone who has the F3 And will let me try them out, I don't know if they make the upgrade list. 

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@Radie

I hear ya. Yes, the hard padding "golf ball" is very protective...just so ya know. But, of course, any piece of equipment you acquire will based on personal preference. I absolutely hate shin guards having a third knee. I never understood the hatred towards buckles. To me, they're easier to get on and off and the Force3's buckles are super tough. Plus, the buckles are always on the outside of your leg and the odds are very slim of taking a shot there. 

I didn't see plate shoes in your list. Are you planning on getting New Balance to go along with your base shoes?

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4 minutes ago, codizzle said:

 I never understood the hatred towards buckles. To me, they're easier to get on and off and the Force3's buckles are super tough. Plus, the buckles are always on the outside of your leg and the odds are very slim of taking a shot there. 

I didn't see plate shoes in your list. Are you planning on getting New Balance to go along with your base shoes?

@codizzle

The buckles really were just a MINOR issue that didn't really factor into the decision. In fact I didn't even notice them until a few days ago despite doing research for weeks. Just listed it as I was typing. I'd be fine with them, really. Just used to the old style since I was a catcher for so long. 

 

As for plate shoes, you missed me saying it early in my original post (it's okay, I'm long winded) but I bought those last year, and yes, NB.... Right before the V3's came out (shucks!). Love them. 

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2 minutes ago, Radie said:

@codizzle

The buckles really were just a MINOR issue that didn't really factor into the decision. In fact I didn't even notice them until a few days ago despite doing research for weeks. Just listed it as I was typing. I'd be fine with them, really. Just used to the old style since I was a catcher for so long. 

 

As for plate shoes, you missed me saying it early in my original post (it's okay, I'm long winded) but I bought those last year, and yes, NB.... Right before the V3's came out (shucks!). Love them. 

Oh my bad. I only saw base shoes in your list. However, when the time comes to get new plate shoes, you will absolutely love the weight and comfort of the V3s!

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Nice to see someone actually do as we say and not as we do, buying quality gear the first time around. 

I too was nervous about the padding on the ankles for the F3 but I assure you they are rock hard (well..... very close.) I do wish they had a second knee on them to go over the top of my knee because truth be told I feel a little exposed, but we'll find out. 

The West Vest chest protectors do their job in the sense that they protect you very well (especially the gold IMO). Even @MadMax will admit that you'll be safe behind a west vest. Are they the best they could be? Are they innovative? Heavens no, but they're still quality. :2cents:

Good luck this year and keep us posted on how that gear works out for you. 

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One thing I'd comment on is the notion that you are safer doing kids games. Yes, the velocities involved are a lot less but you'll get hit many more times in youth ball then in HS or decent level men's league ball. You have to worry about thrown bats, balls off screens and poor catchers. I wish you the very best, I was happy to see you made the minor investment in a throat guard.

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

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14 minutes ago, KenBAZ said:

One thing I'd comment on is the notion that you are safer doing kids games. Yes, the velocities involved are a lot less but you'll get hit many more times in youth ball then in HS or decent level men's league ball. You have to worry about thrown bats, balls off screens and poor catchers. I wish you the very best, I was happy to see you made the minor investment in a throat guard.

Absolutely. I end up with a lot more bruises during "rec-season" than I do during "high school season". High school I might have one or two that really smart, but for rec ball I have tons of smaller ones. The first time you get hit in that-one-particular-spot-they-managed-to-find-this-year it's not bad, but when the fourth one hits you in that exact same location...

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I wish I would have been as smart to purchase quality gear to start. In the end, I've spent the same (or more) because I didn't invest up front.

It sounds like you did your homework first and then the test was easy.

I second those stating you get hit way more in lower-level ball.  They liked to kill me last year! :lol:

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13 hours ago, KenBAZ said:

One thing I'd comment on is the notion that you are safer doing kids games. Yes, the velocities involved are a lot less but you'll get hit many more times in youth ball then in HS or decent level men's league ball. You have to worry about thrown bats, balls off screens and poor catchers. I wish you the very best, I was happy to see you made the minor investment in a throat guard.

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk
 

Yeah... My summer in LL had games spread all the way across the spectrum of level of play... And my experience matches up with what you say. The lowest levels of the league were just pelting me... And I was wearing an old catchers CP... complete with only one shoulder pad... You know for easy mobility when I need to throw down to F1. Though there was this one SMALL (8-9 maybe?) F2 that I probably would have picked to protect me in every game.. even with the 12 year olds. He was great. 

As for the throat guard... Yeah... I'm 6'4"... So my worry here is obviously the foul off the dirt coming up on me. Figured the 6 inch gave it a better chance to reach the CP. I've read the 4 inch can hit you in the throat still instead of bracing against the CP as I imagine it's designed to work. 

12 hours ago, kylehutson said:

Absolutely. I end up with a lot more bruises during "rec-season" than I do during "high school season". High school I might have one or two that really smart, but for rec ball I have tons of smaller ones. The first time you get hit in that-one-particular-spot-they-managed-to-find-this-year it's not bad, but when the fourth one hits you in that exact same location...

As I've mentioned before, I was a catcher my whole life. I'm used to getting dinged. A lot. Plus, when I played Hockey in HS, I was a big lumbering goon (think Brian Boyle) that was slow but immovable front the from of the net.. Took a good amount of deflected pucks in my day as well.

But you're right... Still hurts. Ha. 

 

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