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For the Old School Folks, This Mask Just Arrived


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Just arrived this afternoon:


Yup, that’s a Diamond DFM-iX3-Pro. For catchers. In aluminum.

It weighs nothing.

I gotta say, the pads on this thing, as simple as they are, are better than the default pads on the Umpire version (not the DFM-UMP-BL)! In any case, it’s strong, light, and offers a rather generous eyeport. It won’t bend.

The only reason this didn’t really gain traction with catchers is because it’s not an All-Star or UnderArmour, or Nike, or Easton (who all use titanium or steel), and the NFHS codes prohibit them. Without them carried on retail shelves, they’re only order-able online, where they get undercut by insanely cheap steel masks (Rawlings, Wilsons and MacGregors) or overlooked in favor of the name-brand starlets (Easton, UnderArmour, All-Star).

I ordered this mask in for one of my fellow umpires who is using an old TAG -brand steel, bent like a coat hanger would be to be used as a TV antenna. I have a black harness for it, and we’ll be teaming this up with +POS tan leather pads... which should be arriving any day now.

Oh yeah, the price? Ordered direct from Diamond, $30.

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Here's that same Diamond DFM-iX3-Pro, now refitted with a black harness and tan leather +POS pads:

Now, if there's anything I'll say ahead of time, I'm a wee bit concerned on the pads. The leather is super soft, but the pads are not very dense and crush more than I'm liking. We'll have to see how the umpire-colleague thinks of them. 

But damn if it don't look good. Total cost? About $50.

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On 4/27/2018 at 2:30 PM, Thunderheads said:

Very similar "planform" (pretty good, eh @MadMax ??) as the All-Star FM25, except for the rounded throat extension.  I'm not a fan of silver w/ tan pads, but this looks pretty nice!

You mean, this one?

Now, that's an All-Star FM25. The pads are crap vinyl (LTX), but the mask is a legit FM25 and comes with the catcher's DeltaFlex harness... for only $35. So I grabbed one in case one of my less-tech-savvy colleagues needs one.

For comparison purposes, I included my Icon Steel (Nike Icon planform, sold to me as a Reebok). You can quickly see why the Icon took off and became so... well... iconic. Single bar instead of dual, with elegant, tapered ear guards and (at the time) that extended chin guard that could pass as a throat guard so as to allow you to perch it atop your head without a dangling throat guard hanging down in your face. It's also narrower, with a lower, more wedge-shaped profile than the half-sphere of other catchers masks. When you consider that it was first produced and popularized in Titanium, you realize how thin those wire bars were, and how the thing was unmatched for weight and visibility.

That FM25 is no chunky monkey, though. Unlike the solid steel juggernauts and vinyl-dipped hollow steel tanks (Rawlings -WMX masks come to mind), it is flat-bar hollow steel and painted, shaving weight and still allowing for above-average visibility. It's still tough as nails, and has the vinyl-dipped DynaLites beat, despite having a dual-wire eye port.

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4 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

My main question Max, is why the "sports bra" harness?

On the FM25, it's what it came with. Which is quite the value, if you think about it... 

On the Nike Icon Steel, I have since designated that mask to be my "Catcher Training Only" mask, as it would crush me if it ever got bent again. In this, I only use it for catching pitching lane sessions with/for new umpires or for teaching new, progressing catchers. And yes, to set a good example, I wear a reverse-batting-helmet.

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8 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

My main question Max, is why the "sports bra" harness?

Funny, I always called it a thong. Every time I work with a newer umpire who was a college catcher, and he wears his catchers mask on the plate I always quote the guy in “Raising Arizona,” who says:

“Son, you got a panty on your head.”


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