Just placed an order for the New Balance MU460 plate shoes. I thought sure that I could squeeze another season out of the original NB 450s, but it's just not possible, as my toes are still swollen 24 hours later from yesterday's game.
As information, I ordered from www.ump-attire.com and I will be happy to report back with my review, both here and at Ump-Attire. Looking forward to some comfort !
... and you better be on Ump-Attire.com buying a new CP!!!
Really. $40. Forty Dollars and a few days of waiting on shipping it to you is all it takes to stop looking like a yutz, a schmuck or a doofus, and putting yourself at increased risk of injury. I was a catcher, and I used my ol' catcher's CP for my first year of umpiring... Forget it. Might as well wear a sheet of cardboard. Are you using a cheap softee-shell that you got from the local sporting goods store? Makes you look like a meatball? Pfffft... Donate it to the nearest tae-kwon-do or martial arts studio for use as a sparring vest, for all the good it'll do you in baseball. Own a DavisShield?... ... ... You may be beyond hope.
That Champion Hardshell CP sitting there, offered by U-A, is the ideal entry-level CP. Hard plastic carapace, contoured body panels, segmented padded liner/vest, decent hardware, substantial shoulders, but no-where near as hulking as a WestVest nor as pricey as the better CP's. You don't need a sports car for the daily commute, right? You just need a simple, reliable hatchback or coupe for the daily drive to save up for and get the sports car someday! This is that commuter car.
Heck, it even has a better harness than most of the other, more expensive CP's come stock equipped with! But don't stop there, I advise you... Get it, and with a few extra bucks, purchase a Flex-style harness for it. The Force3 Flex isn't bad; the All-Star DeltaFlex is good, but it only fits slim-to-average builds on a non-All-Star CP like this; but if you want to think serious, contact @Razzer and commission one of his ULFH "RayFlex" units. You can take it with you into that sports-car CP you'll one day get, and if you get it personalized (you should! Ray includes it in the cost), you're allowed to feel a little vain and self-serving at Christmas.
And I better not catch you wearing Catchers' Shinguards either, mister! Those Champion shinguards offered on sale alongside the CP? Those will work swell. You'll actually be able to move in them without toeflaps and sideflaps flopping all out the bottom of your pants... Oh, and you'll actually be able to fit some good pants over them, because these are nowhere near as bulky as catchers' shinguards.
Now, where is @gnhbua93 hiding so as to talk up the fact that U-A is offering the Force3 Defender V2 on sale, too?!!!
PS- Go ahead and get the '15 All-Black Umpire shirt, especially at that price, if all you've got is that lone Navy shirt that some ol' codger in your association said "This 'ere navy one is all ya need!". Those of us with all the different styles of black umpire shirts (there are 4) won't mind. We'll work a game with you, no sweat!
In the effort to minimize the risks of concussions and head impacts, Major League Baseball Umpires advises changing out mask pads every year.
Now, keep in mind, this is for near-constant use in "high-impact" environments (the speeds of Minor and Major -league baseballs). Also, this does not include the advanced, spring-suspension mask from Force3, the Defender, since the pads are specially designed for the mask, and the mask's springs and struts are taking a significant share of the impacting force.
Mask pads themselves vary greatly, and it is equal parts construction, performance and feel (against your face). The two that are the most noteworthy are the Zorbium© pads from Team Wendy and the MemoryFoam pads from Wilson. Other pad sets that work very well are the All-Star LUC pads, Wilson doeskins, Wilson wrap-a-rounds (which are being phased out, IIRC), or any of the "boutique outfitter shops" (such as +POS or Honig's).
In fact, the lighter the mask – by using materials such as Magnesium, Aluminum, and Titanium – the more supple and energy absorbent the pads have to be. The "show ponies" from Nike, Wilson, and Rawlings1 (the Titaniums) and the "experimentals" from +POS, Champro and Diamond (two Magnesiums and an Aluminum) are heavily reliant on more-than-adequate pad sets. Diamond skimped by with woeful, paltry pads for 2-3 years, until finally forced encouraged to dramatically improve their stock pads on their aluminum mask, even though one should strongly consider using one of the premier pad sets if using a mask like that frequently.
Does that mean get a whole new mask? Not exactly! Most of these pads are available individually. Since the pads are sold separate from the mask, then... well... naturally there are mask frames that are sold bereft of any pathetic sub-optimum pads. Three great outfitters offering bare mask frames, ready to take pads and harness of your choosing are:
+POS – Offering its light-as-a-feather-strong-as-an-ox hollow steel ZRO-G mask frame, in silver. Lightweight, great sight lines , rounded chin guard, classic look evocative of the Nike and older Wilson frames (perhaps there's substance to the myth that Nike used the ZRO-G planform when designing their Titanium & Steel iconic masks). Ump-Attire – The Emporium Co-Op of All Things Umpire offers Diamond's DFM-UMP-iX3 mask frame, in black. Aluminum, light but unyielding, with great sight lines, squared chin guard and extended crown guard. And with it sold through Ump-Attire, it has nearly the entire array of pads and harnesses to outfit it, as well as U-A's outstanding customer support. Honig's – The Outfitter keeps their trademark K4 mask frame out there, in black. Hollow plugged-end steel affording excellent, resilient protection, with a brief chin guard (ideally suited for any of a number of dangling throat protectors), "blowback" ear guards and an extended crown guard contributing to a sophisticated look. Nice feature of Honig's site, the frame can be ordered bare, or outfitted with any of the pads Honig's has in stock directly on the online page. 1- All-Star is, unfortunately, not listed as their titanium show pony, the FM25Ti with its dual-wire eye slot and huge, radar-tower-like ear guards, is intended for catchers.
By Umpire in Chief
Umpire ball bag is a patented design. (US Patent #5,788,170) Elastic front Easily holds 6 baseballs and 3 softballs Inside pouch for: indicator, plate brush, and line-up cards (items not included). Everything stays snug and secure during those quick calls. Zippered compartment on back for keys, wallet, watch, bandages, etc. - no more bulging pockets or lost keys. Available in black, grey and navy Fits on umpire belts Made in Kentucky, U.S.A. This product is available from Ump-Attire.com.