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Is a Nike really worth $300-$500

Simple answer is hell NO! I understand it's. Cool thing to have and some umpires don't mind paying for coolness. And I'm ok with it. It's your money.

Yes I have owned 2 Nikes myself but flipped them for a profit.

They are very nice masks but are they the best? No.

Your thoughts?

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Totally agree with you. They're cool to own but they're no better than other masks and since they're titanium they bend easily. I owned one and it didn't see much action because I wanted to keep it looking nice. Eventually I asked myself "why did I buy this thing if it's just gonna sit on the shelf"? It didn't make sense to spend the money I did to never use what is essentially a tool. I sold the mask a few months later. I'd rather invest in something useful like a Force 3 mask or otherwise and save some dough.

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Totally agree - I had a Nike steel as a catcher - it was no different than any other mask I wore. I thought the pads were worse that some of the others as well. The curve of the cage was too flat for my taste and didn't fit as well as others.

I own 4 different masks now - and I have a favorite due to comfort, but I wear all 4 for different stuff. They all have TW pads in them.

  • Rawlings (ultra-lightweight titanium) - lightest of them all - inside is black. Best vision and no glare. Really like the design of the throat guard (flatter) I would buy another (this is a $250 mask + TW pads). Wear it for HS and College ball.
  • Wilson titanium - good mask - I have had 1 bend and 1 break on a weld. I still trust the one I have now. I would buy another. Back-up for HS and College ball.
  • Mizuno 122 - heaviest of them all - I don't like not having the throat guard on it. I have a dangling one on there. I will not wear this mask for varsity or above.
  • Honigs single bar - use it when I catch. Works well, and I don't mind throwing it to the ground.

If you have the money and are going to use it - go for it. If you buy it just to have a Nike, then it is a waste IMO.

It is all personal choice and feel the chest protector is as important, as I get hit on the outside shoulder more than the mask.

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Surprisingly, you'd think a longtime Nike wearer and one-time employee would be a staunch defender of the Nike masks. Thing is, they're no different than other equitable masks. Their scarcity and clandestine methods of obtainment pique the interest (and sometimes obsession) in owning one.

So I sought one out and paid a considerable (but reasonable) price for a Nike Steel. It's just iconically baseball. If the Wilson DynaLite is an umpire's icon, and the All-Star FM-25 is a catcher's icon, then the Nike is their well-mannered child.  I really really really liked owning and using it, but it took a shot to the main horizontal bar soon after getting it. While I pounded it back out with a dead blow hammer, this started a trend of behavior, culminating in the recent impact of a 92+ mph foul-off that caved in that same bar and decisively cracked the weld. 

MaskIt was unable to devote the time to fix it, and it would have likely far exceeded the initial price of the mask. The ZRO-G I got as a replacement is nearly as good, just... different. Slightly.

Will I ever buy a Nike Steel or Titanium again? Likely not... But if a Titanium comes available to me through a new contact that I've happened to acquaint myself with? Uhm, I'd be fool to say no.

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4 hours ago, MadMax said:

Surprisingly, you'd think a longtime Nike wearer and one-time employee would be a staunch defender of the Nike masks. Thing is, they're no different than other equitable masks. Their scarcity and clandestine methods of obtainment pique the interest (and sometimes obsession) in owning one.

So I sought one out and paid a considerable (but reasonable) price for a Nike Steel. It's just iconically baseball. If the Wilson DynaLite is an umpire's icon, and the All-Star FM-25 is a catcher's icon, then the Nike is their well-mannered child.  I really really really liked owning and using it, but it took a shot to the main horizontal bar soon after getting it. While I pounded it back out with a dead blow hammer, this started a trend of behavior, culminating in the recent impact of a 92+ mph foul-off that caved in that same bar and decisively cracked the weld. 

MaskIt was unable to devote the time to fix it, and it would have likely far exceeded the initial price of the mask. The ZRO-G I got as a replacement is nearly as good, just... different. Slightly.

Will I ever buy a Nike Steel or Titanium again? Likely not... But if a Titanium comes available to me through a new contact that I've happened to acquaint myself with? Uhm, I'd be fool to say no.

MM, I always appreciate and enjoy reading your opinions regarding umpire equipment. At least for me it has be a great help when thinking about equipment to buy.

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I own two Nike Ti masks, and I like them a lot. They forced my Wilson Ti's into retirement.

One of the Nikes I purchased from a forum member here, the other I got for free from a college catcher. Seems he'd had it for about a week and while playing a pre-season game, he tossed it to the ground chasing a pop-up. It landed funny and cracked at the weld point on the ear-guard. His school got him another one and he gave the broken one to me. I had it re-welded by a guy I know who works for an aircraft engine manufacturer (where welding titanium is an everyday thing). He charged me 20 bucks for the weld job and said the new weld is as strong or stronger than the original. So, I got a pretty much brand new Nike Ti for total investment of $20. It may be of interest to some folks on here that both the Nike and Wilson Ti masks are made of pure titanium...no alloys. The guy who did the welding analyzed the metal in order to select the right welding material for optimum strength. He said 100% Ti.

I don't really have any "brand loyalty" when it comes to equipment. "Cool factor" plays absolutely no role in my gear choices. But I like the Nike very much due to its great vision, its weight, its nearly vertical throat protector (my old Wilson Ti's throat area is angled too far forward...see my avatar), and its generous ear-guards. Overall, it's my favorite mask frame...not because it's fashionable or exotic...but because it's what works best for me. YMMV.

Having said that, I don't know if I'd spend $500 for one. $300-$350 would be the max I would consider should I need to replace one.

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Death of a (Nike) Mask:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/21753540/v1201031583/nymphi-foul-ball-breaks-plaweckis-mask

So Kevin Plawecki took a foul ball right off the mask. This was an ender for that mask, as you'll see the main horizontal bar cave in, rather significantly. Being titanium, it will likely be extremely difficult or not worthwhile to bend it back out.

This could have happened to any other mask. But, with it being a Nike, it's like watching a unicorn die.

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Death of a (Nike) Mask:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/21753540/v1201031583/nymphi-foul-ball-breaks-plaweckis-mask

So Kevin Plawecki took a foul ball right off the mask. This was an ender for that mask, as you'll see the main horizontal bar cave in, rather significantly. Being titanium, it will likely be extremely difficult or not worthwhile to bend it back out.

This could have happened to any other mask. But, with it being a Nike, it's like watching a unicorn die.

That was a hit!

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11 hours ago, MadMax said:

Death of a (Nike) Mask:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/21753540/v1201031583/nymphi-foul-ball-breaks-plaweckis-mask

So Kevin Plawecki took a foul ball right off the mask. This was an ender for that mask, as you'll see the main horizontal bar cave in, rather significantly. Being titanium, it will likely be extremely difficult or not worthwhile to bend it back out.

This could have happened to any other mask. But, with it being a Nike, it's like watching a unicorn die.

HOLY CRAP that was a doozy!!!!!

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11 hours ago, MadMax said:

Death of a (Nike) Mask:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/21753540/v1201031583/nymphi-foul-ball-breaks-plaweckis-mask

So Kevin Plawecki took a foul ball right off the mask. This was an ender for that mask, as you'll see the main horizontal bar cave in, rather significantly. Being titanium, it will likely be extremely difficult or not worthwhile to bend it back out.

This could have happened to any other mask. But, with it being a Nike, it's like watching a unicorn die.

The mask and pads died doing its job. Plawecki got up and walked over for a new mask with no ill effects, cuts, or anything. Isn't that what the mask and pads  supposed to do? 

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27 minutes ago, midtnump said:

The mask and pads died doing its job. Plawecki got up and walked over for a new mask with no ill effects, cuts, or anything. Isn't that what the mask and pads  supposed to do? 

Quite so, @midtnump. The mask (frame + pads) did exactly what they were supposed to. (The rest of you readers) please note – the mask shifted / bounced / was knocked off Plawecki's face. Catchers want their mask to come off fairly easily. Why Major League Umpires have their masks on so tightly and snugly is a mystery...

Oh yeah. It isn't a mystery. It's because insurance underwriters and public relations staff view the mask coming off as a failure.

So too, notice, you've hit upon a key nail in this topic – "Plawecki got up and walked over for a new mask". Granted, this is a well-paid, professional athlete we're talking about, where a new mask – even pure titanium – is a fraction of his (or team's) operating budget, but these are professional umpires. Why hasn't anybody established a better system of supplying umpires with "expendable" pads, if not whole masks?

This event has fanned a spark of irritation with Nike... If they splash their logo all over sponsored and/or supplied catchers, advertising and tempting us to buy their products, and we (the purchasing public) are able to buy the shoes, the shin guards, the CP, the glove(s)... but not the mask? Why not the mask?!

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