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Mask Opinions Requested

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Currently, I have am All Star 4000 Mag.  Just got it from All Star and sold my other masks (Force 3 and Wilson Ti).  I was a little concerned about the thin pad at the top but convinced myself it was OK.  I umpire softball and have a couple friends that use it and they've not had any issues.  They don't throw as hard in SB so I should be OK, right???

One of the contributor to this board recently got hit using this mask and suffered a concussion.  I'm nervous about wearing this mask now, worried about my safety and not turning into more of a brain o mush.  Here are my thoughts/options and I'd like to throw it out there and get pro and cons from the group:

1. Find a better pad for the top and keep the mask.  I don't really like TW pads and might go with a Wilson leather.

2. Get a +POS Zero G and put Wilson Leather pads on it.  Saw someone post on this the other day and it looked interesting.

3. Go back to a Force 3.  It's so friggin heavy though.  Summer tournaments in Alabama I'm going to be sweating like crazy.  Safe - Yes, Heavy - Yes.

4. Wilson Aluminum Frame.  Looks interesting but not sure of the benefits/safety aspects.

As an add on to the story, NCAA Softball requires black mask, black pads.

 

Please let me know your thoughts/opinions.  I just want a good rig that will keep the few marbles I have rattling around in the right spots for a while.

 

Al-Ump

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5 minutes ago, AL-Ump said:

Currently, I have am All Star 4000 Mag.  Just got it from All Star and sold my other masks (Force 3 and Wilson Ti).  I was a little concerned about the thin pad at the top but convinced myself it was OK.  I umpire softball and have a couple friends that use it and they've not had any issues.  They don't throw as hard in SB so I should be OK, right???

One of the contributor to this board recently got hit using this mask and suffered a concussion.  I'm nervous about wearing this mask now, worried about my safety and not turning into more of a brain o mush.  Here are my thoughts/options and I'd like to throw it out there and get pro and cons from the group:

1. Find a better pad for the top and keep the mask.  I don't really like TW pads and might go with a Wilson leather.

2. Get a +POS Zero G and put Wilson Leather pads on it.  Saw someone post on this the other day and it looked interesting.

3. Go back to a Force 3.  It's so friggin heavy though.  Summer tournaments in Alabama I'm going to be sweating like crazy.  Safe - Yes, Heavy - Yes.

4. Wilson Aluminum Frame.  Looks interesting but not sure of the benefits/safety aspects.

As an add on to the story, NCAA Softball requires black mask, black pads.

 

Please let me know your thoughts/opinions.  I just want a good rig that will keep the few marbles I have rattling around in the right spots for a while.

 

Al-Ump

Spend $40 and get a con-cushion from Gerry Davis.  I wear the 4000mag and love it.  And I have used the con-cushion since it became available.

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Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t find the force 3 to be that heavy. I thought it would be worse out of the box. And I’ll take any extra weight if it means not sacrificing protection. 

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8 hours ago, umpstu said:

Spend $40 and get a con-cushion from Gerry Davis.  I wear the 4000mag and love it.  And I have used the con-cushion since it became available.

Stu, have you taken any hits with it yet?

@AL-Ump, remember, there is no such thing as a concussion proof mask. @wolfe_man had his along with a few MLB guys in his MAG. But even the vaunted Force3 Defender wont completely protect you. Just ask Tom Hallion from a week ago.

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2 hours ago, Thatsnotyou said:

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t find the force 3 to be that heavy. I thought it would be worse out of the box. And I’ll take any extra weight if it means not sacrificing protection. 

I have about 6 games with my F3 and don’t find it heavy at all. Even with consecutive games on the plate. 

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8 minutes ago, LeoDev said:

I have about 6 games with my F3 and don’t find it heavy at all. Even with consecutive games on the plate. 

Interesting.  Maybe I just have to get used to it, but I don't see how people wear their mask loose - it puts a lot of pressure on the brim of the hat and pushes that down on me.  I could only imagine with the F3 that would be much worse (or do you intentionally wear the F3 tight because that's better to get the springs working?

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The harness is elastic. The mask is designed to be worn snug. It takes a little getting used to , but I haven’t had any issues. I took a shot to the right cheek in a 13u wood bat game on Saturday and barley felt it. 

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28 minutes ago, BT_Blue said:

Stu, have you taken any hits with it yet?

@AL-Ump, remember, there is no such thing as a concussion proof mask. @wolfe_man had his along with a few MLB guys in his MAG. But even the vaunted Force3 Defender wont completely protect you. Just ask Tom Hallion from a week ago.

Taken a few. No big deal.  Can definitely tell the difference from when I didn't have it.

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4 minutes ago, Rock Bottom said:

Interesting.  Maybe I just have to get used to it, but I don't see how people wear their mask loose - it puts a lot of pressure on the brim of the hat and pushes that down on me.  I could only imagine with the F3 that would be much worse (or do you intentionally wear the F3 tight because that's better to get the springs working?

To quote the GREAT Adam Savage and James Hyneman... "well, there's your problem!"

The Force3 Defender is made to wear tight to your face (like Leo says). If you wear it loose, (1) the weight will magnify because of the double cage, and (2) at @MadMax is fond of saying... the springs wont be able to compress properly and do their jobs.

As for the harness. I would highly recommend getting one of Ray's mask harnesses! Even with a big melon like mine. That thing is a must have!

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10 hours ago, AL-Ump said:

Currently, I have am All Star 4000 Mag.  Just got it from All Star and sold my other masks (Force 3 and Wilson Ti).  I was a little concerned about the thin pad at the top but convinced myself it was OK.  I umpire softball and have a couple friends that use it and they've not had any issues.  They don't throw as hard in SB so I should be OK, right???

One of the contributor to this board recently got hit using this mask and suffered a concussion.  I'm nervous about wearing this mask now, worried about my safety and not turning into more of a brain o mush.  Here are my thoughts/options and I'd like to throw it out there and get pro and cons from the group:

1. Find a better pad for the top and keep the mask.  I don't really like TW pads and might go with a Wilson leather.

2. Get a +POS Zero G and put Wilson Leather pads on it.  Saw someone post on this the other day and it looked interesting.

3. Go back to a Force 3.  It's so friggin heavy though.  Summer tournaments in Alabama I'm going to be sweating like crazy.  Safe - Yes, Heavy - Yes.

4. Wilson Aluminum Frame.  Looks interesting but not sure of the benefits/safety aspects.

As an add on to the story, NCAA Softball requires black mask, black pads.

 

Please let me know your thoughts/opinions.  I just want a good rig that will keep the few marbles I have rattling around in the right spots for a while.

 

Al-Ump

As far as the Force 3 goes, the only reason I no longer use one is because no matter how I tried it kept pulling down the bill of my cap.  And sweating in Alabama during the summer will not change no matter the mask.  It's humid brother.  And how much more does a Force 3 weigh then say an All Star fm4000mag?  17 oz.  Wilson titanium  19 oz.  Wilson dynalite  21 oz. Diamond mask 15.5 oz.  So at 27 oz not that much difference.

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5 hours ago, umpstu said:

As far as the Force 3 goes, the only reason I no longer use one is because no matter how I tried it kept pulling down the bill of my cap.  And sweating in Alabama during the summer will not change no matter the mask.  It's humid brother.  And how much more does a Force 3 weigh then say an All Star fm4000mag?  17 oz.  Wilson titanium  19 oz.  Wilson dynalite  21 oz. Diamond mask 15.5 oz.  So at 27 oz not that much difference.

I can see your point.  My advice if you want the F3 is to wear it snug and wear a hat that fits snug as well.   Not too tight, but snug. My hat was a little loose last night and it did push the bill down just a little last night, but I only had to tweak the mask fit between innings and then my hat stayed put.

I honestly don't "feel"much difference in weight between the F2 V2 and most other masks when I'm wearing it.  Sure, there are lighter masks, but the only shots that've really rattled me were A) Nike Ti with TW pads and B) All Star MAG and LUC pads and C) Rawlings old-school mask with stock pads.     The first two are due to their lightweight so pads have to take all the impact (or your head & neck does) and the last was because pads were junk.

I love the MAG looks and super lightweight, but if you're going to wear it I wholeheartedly recommend doing something to that top pad for more protection.  It was designed for use by catchers wearing a skull cap.  If we umpires are going to use it, then we need to upgrade our protection up top.  Either add a skull cap, an Unequal Uncap, a hard hat insert inside your ballcap, upgrade the top pad to a TW pad, and/or add the Con-Cushion pad.   All are additional costs to an already expensive mask, but you only have one brain.

For me, I'll be sticking with my F3.  I have found steel masks are better for me. I have a somewhat big head (7 3/8) and as long as the mask weight is distributed well, I really don't notice a lot of difference between most masks.  Sure, some are much lighter, but there is a trade-off that I don't like with lighter masks.  Just my :2cents:

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4 minutes ago, BT_Blue said:

Glad to see you are back on the field Keith.

Thanks.  I finally got a chance to get back behind the plate (weather wasn't cooperating after my return).   I found myself liking the secure, snug fit of the F3 V2.   An added benefit that I had never considered, is due to the mask's dual frame my Douglas CP practically touched the inner frame of the F3 mask at the throat.  I'll probably still add a TG, but it was nice having a close fit even without it. 

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14 hours ago, BT_Blue said:

But even the vaunted Force3 Defender wont completely protect you. Just ask Tom Hallion from a week ago.

I watched that event happen in real time. Some factors to consider:

  • Inside fastball from a MLB arm, with catcher set up outside. Contact with inner half of the bat, so essentially a redirect; the resulting foul ball (never foul tip) was an uppercut direct to Hallion’s face.
  • The Defender mask not only compressed, but the angle which the ball struck knocked the mask up and off. See video.
  • As with a previous game between Orioles and Angels, Hallion took a hit in the exact same spot – upper half of the mask. See video.
  • Unfortunately, Hallion has a history.
  • MLB has an unpublished protocol regarding umpire masks. Umpire masks that hit the ground are potentially regarded as “failed masks”. So, even if Hallion was AOK to continue, if he did, any subsequent problems he developed would have been viewed with heightened scrutiny when it comes to insurance claims.

See video:

If it doesn’t automatically start there, check the 2:24 mark.

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8 minutes ago, MadMax said:

I watched that event happen in real time. Some factors to consider:

  • Inside fastball from a MLB arm, with catcher set up outside. Contact with inner half of the bat, so essentially a redirect; the resulting foul ball (never foul tip) was an uppercut direct to Hallion’s face.
  • The Defender mask not only compressed, but the angle which the ball struck knocked the mask up and off. See video.
  • As with a previous game between Orioles and Angels, Hallion took a hit in the exact same spot – upper half of the mask. See video.
  • Unfortunately, Hallion has a history.
  • MLB has an unpublished protocol regarding umpire masks. Umpire masks that hit the ground are potentially regarded as “failed masks”. So, even if Hallion was AOK to continue, if he did, any subsequent problems he developed would have been viewed with heightened scrutiny when it comes to insurance claims.

See video:

If it doesn’t automatically start there, check the 2:24 mark.

This is the EXACT same situation that happened when I got my concussion while wearing the MAG.  Inside fastball, swung on and fouled (not touched by catcher) straight to the main bar above eye slot, dead-center of the mask.   Mask stayed on, but moved a little in my case.   Of course, not an MLB arm, but metal bats.

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23 hours ago, AL-Ump said:

As an add on to the story, NCAA Softball requires black mask, black pads.

As an aside, this confuses me greatly. Unless they've updated, and I may be remiss in not checking on it, but isn't the NCAA Softball Umpire uniform still navy-trim based? As in, powder blue with navy and white trim?

... which means, a navy hat?

... which means, navy blue ball bags?

... and yet, they're mandating an all-black mask?

:HS For an organization that takes such seriousness in terms of style... Hmm.

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16 hours ago, Rock Bottom said:

Interesting.  Maybe I just have to get used to it, but I don't see how people wear their mask loose - it puts a lot of pressure on the brim of the hat and pushes that down on me.  I could only imagine with the F3 that would be much worse (or do you intentionally wear the F3 tight because that's better to get the springs working?

Definitely try tightening the mask. I don't feel the weight as much with it tight (but not crazy tight or anything), I don't feel it pushing down on the brim. As mentioned, it's meant to be worn a little tighter vs a little looser.

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23 hours ago, Rock Bottom said:

Interesting.  Maybe I just have to get used to it, but I don't see how people wear their mask loose

I have an Icon and ZRO-G's that I wear so loose, they float on my face. About two weeks ago, I took an uppercut shot that hit right on the TW label at the mouth... and blew the mask clean off my face. Didn't feel anything other than surprise at suddenly looking back at the pitcher without bars in the way. I was more peeved at my ZRO-G getting dirty than anything else.

If I ever do get a Force3 Defender, I would certainly wear it tight. The reason I don't have a Force3 yet is due to cost versus redundancy (and a little bit of style vanity). I have 5 masks because I have a silver frame, a matte grey frame, a black frame, a sky blue frame, and a navy frame. And I exchange TW pads on them as needed (the Navy mask has Navy All-Star LUCs). Each frame cost me no more than $49 each. So, I'm getting 3 masks for the price of 1 Force3. And, in our line of work, we should have a spare mask with us, at least in our gear bag, just in case. 

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8 hours ago, MadMax said:

I have an Icon and ZRO-G's that I wear so loose, they float on my face. About two weeks ago, I took an uppercut shot that hit right on the TW label at the mouth... and blew the mask clean off my face. Didn't feel anything other than surprise at suddenly looking back at the pitcher without bars in the way. I was more peeved at my ZRO-G getting dirty than anything else.

If I ever do get a Force3 Defender, I would certainly wear it tight. The reason I don't have a Force3 yet is due to cost versus redundancy (and a little bit of style vanity). I have 5 masks because I have a silver frame, a matte grey frame, a black frame, a sky blue frame, and a navy frame. And I exchange TW pads on them as needed (the Navy mask has Navy All-Star LUCs). Each frame cost me no more than $49 each. So, I'm getting 3 masks for the price of 1 Force3. And, in our line of work, we should have a spare mask with us, at least in our gear bag, just in case. 

Doesn't having it that loose put too much pressure on your hat brim and feel uncomfortable?  That's the issue I have when using it with my mask (an FM4000 steel). (Above I see my comments might have made it sound like I had a F3, but I was just saying it in general about wearing it loose vs. tight.)

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21 minutes ago, Rock Bottom said:

Doesn't having it that loose put too much pressure on your hat brim and feel uncomfortable?  That's the issue I have when using it with my mask (an FM4000 steel). (Above I see my comments might have made it sound like I had a F3, but I was just saying it in general about wearing it loose vs. tight.)

Loose makes the mask "spin" off your head and deflect the energy when hit ......

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I think most folks have a different definition of "loose".   Details are good here to prevent confusion.

My version of "loose" is to wear my mask loose enough to move freely when I lower my neck, but snug enough to not push down on my hat all game long with a normal mask.  It stays where it should be, unless I shake my head hard then it moves freely.   You don't want it too "loose" where it isn't protecting you because it's falling down off your hat.

Think like a CP fit. Snug enough you don't have to keep readjusting, but not too tight; however not too loose (i.e. shop apron) either.

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Another option to the F3, I think, is the ZR0-G steel. I use them with TW pads. I have an all-black setup that is sharp looking - looks almost like a Nike if Nike had black frames. i know you said in your original post that you don't like TWs, BUT: 1) they are lightweight 2) they are washable, so are great when it gets warm - washing machine, then air-dry 3) They are designed to disburse the force. Combined with the steel frames that give, those dead-on shots have been a non-factor for me for a couple of years now. And my setups are under 16 oz.  I like the setup so much that come Memorial Day here on Long Island (HS ball complete and warmer weather in) I normally use/rotate three mask setups: All ZR0-G frames: Black frame/ black TWs, Silver frame/black TWs, and Charcoal frame/tan TWs..

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On 4/18/2019 at 6:57 AM, Thunderheads said:

Loose makes the mask "spin" off your head and deflect the energy when hit ......

This is exactly right. I like to wear my mask loose enough where I can push down on the chin guard and have my mask come off my head easily. This way I know if I get hit on the bottom of the mask it should come off easily instead of being driven into my chin. Obviously you want it tight enough so the mask stays on your head, but I'd be uncomfortable knowing it would take a large amount of force to knock my mask off. 

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When I'm wearing my Diamond mask, it's actually loose enough that if I weren't for the brim of my hat, it would fall. YMMV.

The instructions I read (somewhere on this site, I'm pretty sure) were to lean over so your facing downward with your hat on, and tighten the straps just enough to feel the top pads hit your forehead. The bottom pads shouldn't be touching your chin.

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