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Pros and Cons of using OUTSIDE CHEST Protector


jpaco54

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Looking for some insight on the pros and cons of the outside chest protector, balloon , for youth church and rec. baseball ages 12 and under. I have been using my Wilson platinum but was getting beat up last year on missed balls by the catcher at this age. Taking shots to the abdomen, arms and thighs. I use the Gerry Davis stance. Any opinions would be great as well as any pointers one may have in technique. Tips!

In our organization I saw many senior umps use the balloon in mid-july due to hot weather for higher level ball as well, some 18 age groups travel ball.

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First, if you work the slot you'll have less of a target on you. Some will swear that working the GD is safer than the slot. They are wrong. You're more upright, dead center, and more of a ball magnet for fouls. You may get a better view, but you'll get hit more. It's a tradeoff.

As for the raft, you've got a couple of down sides. First, you'll look like an umpire dork. I'm just sayin'. The only other really down side is making calls with it. It's tough to remove your mask (and I can't even imagine removing a helmet), and call SAFE!

But it is safer, and it is cooler (temperature, not looks).

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Lots of protection, but tough to move with that thing flapping in the breeze.

However, a couple years ago, I had one of my umpires come to me before the season and tell me he couldn't work this year. Seems he had heart surgery in the off-season, and was told by his cardiologist that if he took a shot in the chest, even with his CP, he could go down permanently. I suggested he buy a raft, and moved him to the lower ages (9-10) until he was cleared to come back. (Yeah, yeah, calm down, his doctor approved it first). He did, and it worked well for him.

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Pros:

Cooler

More protection

Cons:

Not the norm among umpires

Making safe calls

Taking off your mask

Gerry Davis stance - couldn't use it using a balloon

However, the choice is yours. Sounds like you are wanting more protection at the lower level. I certainly can't fault you for that; however, you would have to change your stance behind the plate.

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Looking for some insight on the pros and cons of the outside chest protector, balloon , for youth church and rec. baseball ages 12 and under. I have been using my Wilson platinum but was getting beat up last year on missed balls by the catcher at this age. Taking shots to the abdomen, arms and thighs. I use the Gerry Davis stance. Any opinions would be great as well as any pointers one may have in technique. Tips!

In our organization I saw many senior umps use the balloon in mid-july due to hot weather for higher level ball as well, some 18 age groups travel ball.

I do not wear them but McDavid HexPad Shorts can help cover your thighs.

Abdomen, protect that with your slot arm.

Work the slot a lot safer.

Also at that age make sure you encourage your catcher to get into proper position. That gets you closer and anything that gets by them does not have a chance to bounce up that high.

Do not forget the one scientific fact about umpiring behind the plate. "The ball will always find a unprotected spot". :home:

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

Dear Friends...the exterior shield is OUTSTANDING!!!   As constructed, it is awkward to handle, etc...sooooo, I modified it with bungee cords to form an arm-sling....this allows for control with the one arm...leaving the right arm free for out, strike and foul calls as well as for dramatic 'safe' calls and removing your facemask...I work the slot with a modified horse stance and have rarely been struck in the three years or so since switching to da balloon.....As for appearance , if your consistent, professional, and reasonably approachable...'dorkiness' does not become an issue....Note that the cords can be problematic at times so I'm working to attach some Viking-style velcro straps to allow for better control...It would also be nice if Honig and others would make an outside shield that's wider and longer......

 

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  • 4 months later...
  • 9 years later...

tl;dr - dusting off this topic and my outside chest protector

quick backstory - umpired from 1981 to 2001, retired, then returned to umpiring this year (2023)

Spring HS baseball went well and now umpiring MS (middle school) late summer ball. In my first game (wearing the inside chest protector), I took a foul ball off the left thumb and wrist (my fault as I didn't tuck the arm back) and another foul ball off the right forearm near the crook of the elbow. Gratefully, both ball came in slow but still left a mark. So, will break out the ol' outside chest protector (Rawlings) for the rest of the season (I can take a hint)

pro - protection

con - awkwardness: I wear the outside like a shield on my left arm, so my right arm is free to signal. Still, have to use two signals for balls, then strikes

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hey ousafe - though it was my first game at the late summer middle school level (12u - something I didn't even see back 20+ years ago), I think that the catchers aren't as fundamentally sound as they were back then. Also, they're a bit shorter - I'm 5'6", so I don't tower over them but MS catchers being smaller, I'm more exposed than I am with HS catchers (who are usually as tall if not taller)

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hey, Man in Blue - I'd be more concerned about what coaches & fellow umpires thought if I used the outside chest protector at the HS level. But for MS, I think it's be more a nostalgic novelty as long as I call a good and consistent game

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