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JimKirk

Can Wearing an Umpire Cap Under a Helmet Be a Safety Issue?

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We held a lengthy discussion/review last week among our staff on umpire helmets & safety.

We got into some specifics of which umpire cap bill sizes can be worn easily underneath which brand umpire helmet for those who prefer that and have the skill to take off their helmet while their caps remain on. My hat is certainly off to those of you who do.

As a result, we developed some new concerns on the possibility of the bill of some caps being exposed to a direct hit with certain helmets. See the article for the pics and captions.

https://www.ump-attire.com/Umpire-Articles/Use-Caution-When-Wearing-a-Cap-Under-Your-Umpire-Helmet

Our concern is that some umpires are unknowingly adding a safety risk - that no one, including us, has brought to anyone’s attention - at the expense of appearance.

However, I wanted to get your thoughts and get a discussion going, especially those here who wear buckets.

Are we overthinking it or is this a valid issue that needs awareness?

If possible, I’d like to keep this a discussion on helmet safety and not diverge into “I found an AllStar MVP4000 on SomeSite.com for $99” (which would actually be a good deal) or “when will your Force3 16.5 shin guards be back in stock” (the answer is “any day now”).

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I don't wear a bucket nor did I wear anything underneath when I did.

However, I would say that this is something to be explored. I don't know if we could say if it is a safety issue or not until we look at it and find evidence either way. My hunch is that it is either a safety issue (where force transferred to the bill can cause injury) or a comfort one (where force transferred can cause discomfort.) I don't think it is entirely harmless.

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50 minutes ago, wolfe_man said:

Agree with Matt. 
 

I used to wear a bucket. But never wore a hat under it.

I‘ve suspected some MLB umps took a hit  because they wore an 8 stitch under the regular mask. But when I mentioned it at the time I was dissuaded from the idea. 

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1 hour ago, wolfe_man said:

Agree with Matt. 
 

I used to wear a bucket. But never wore a hat under it.

Thanks for sharing. I spoke with MiLB medical director Mark Stubblefield last week. He shared that at the minor league level, no umpires who wear helmets were wearing hats underneath...so this is a non-issue at that level.

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50 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

I‘ve suspected some MLB umps took a hit  because they wore an 8 stitch under the regular mask. But when I mentioned it at the time I was dissuaded from the idea. 

That’s really interesting. I appreciate you bringing that up. The mask/cap interface issue may be a bigger issue, given with a helmet, it’s going to have to be a DIRECT shot on that exposed cap bill.

With a mask, however, on a headshot simply in the PROXIMITY of a cap when the frame and cap bill is too close, force can be transferred to a bill when the mask moves inward.

Here is the thing: some masks sit closer to the forehead than others. Just because you can fit a 6-stitch (with space) under your Wilson mask with wrap around padding, does not mean you can fit a 6-stitch cap under another mask or with another set of pads.

For instance, a 6-stitch will not work with an All-Star Magnesium mask (or Champro Rampage) due to the mask’s design.

Do chime in if you experience with the broader issue that @Jimurray brings up as well.

What I’d really like is for each of you who read this, go grab your cap and mask (or helmet with cap if you do this) and check this. Then share your thoughts as to whether you think your combo works or is of concern.

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The wearing of a hat conjunctively with a HSM is a "make an impression" thing, and really not a comfort thing. An umpire in Minor / Major League Baseball doesn't really have to do anything above, beyond or different than his colleagues to make an impression upon the participants (players, coaches, staff, etc.). Why? Because they've already been vetted, trained on the proper protocols (this includes gear & uniform selection and presentation), and subject to the near-constant scrutiny of evaluators.

However, in the amateur ranks, especially in the prestigious arenas of college and high-level tournament baseball, the impression you, as an umpire, present upon the participants is much more open to interpretation. For example, the protocol standards and expectations are for all participants to be in uniform, including a hat. "I (as coach) have to wear a hat, so why is the umpire getting away with not wearing a hat?" or "So where does this (young) umpire get off wearing a doo-rag?" are just a couple of the jabs that are tossed about. Then there's the perception that you can't see plays (properly) if you leave your HSM on; then, if you take it off, and are not wearing a hat with a bill, then your unshielded eyes will be squinting and fighting the sun, and you won't see plays (properly). Also, there are evaluators within associations that make it compulsory to adhere to all procedural and protocol standards.

Personally, am I against HSMs? No, not at all. However, should you be plopping it down on the ground or grass during a plate meeting? No, that looks so sloppy. Should you be propping it atop your head? No! And if you saw Greg Gibson or Gary Cederstrom do it, too bad, they "earned" the right, or latitude to do so.

If you're telling me that you're wearing a hat beneath your HSM for fitting purposes, then I, as a gear guy, am going to investigate further as to why you selected a HSM, at a considerable cost, that doesn't fit you properly on its own. Besides, I think the button on the top of the ballcap is just as annoying and potentially wounding as the bill is.

On the Traditional Mask (TM) front, @JimKirk properly points out, there are mask models that prohibit wearing an 8-stitch. I don't care how much you idolize and try to channel Jim Evans, they just don't work. Back when I equipped my All-Star FM4000 with Team Wendy pads, I couldn't wear anything more than a 4-stitch with it, as a 6-stitch would actually prop the frame – and pads – away from my face. Now with the LUC-Mag pads on the mask, I can wear a 6-stitch, and while it's a crammed fit, it's not a dangerous fit. An 8-stitch is (still) impossible. <sarcasm> Thank you so much college conference suppliers who only make hats – at $28 each – in 4- and 8- stitch! Or, those independent pro leagues that only supply hats in 8-stitch, even after circulating a survey gauging what type of gear the umpires would prefer (preferred 2016 panel shirts and 6-stitch hats; got "classic" 2-stripe shirts in black, navy, and softball powder, and 8-stitch hats in black and navy!). </sarcasm> The Wilson DynaLite WV Platinum Titanium Low-Profile (or, Flatinum) mask is another one that really causes concern, even when wearing a 4-stitch!

So, I currently circulate between 4 masks (soon to add a 5th with a Champro Rampage), and I do not use anything greater than a 6-stitch with them.

Now, for those that feel they need to wear a hat of some kind with their HSM, I've been recommending something more like a cycling cap:
image.png.b367337efc31053cbe6198d4f0b512a7.pngimage.png.b9088c7e8edfb5ff32a842631cabd1f7.pngimage.thumb.png.9c8f696e0e4dd8a966fc4421e47c3c42.png  

Notice, no button up top, no structuring to the forehead or to the bill, and a shorter bill, somewhere between a 2-stitch and 4-stitch. Sooooo much "classier" than a doo-rag.

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Everyone is going to have a different combination of head size, hat length, helmet/mask and pads that it's really impossible to state what's going to be a concern with a blanket statement.

Me, I try to figure out if the bill of my hat is going to be a concern by trying to collapse the pads (or springs) and see if the bill is either exposed, or will be touching the frame. I recall trying on a "new view" (read: flat) frame, where my 8 stitch actually poked through the frame. Yeah, that's no good. Others would have the bill touching, or really close to the top rail of the eye opening of the frame, so when compressed by the blow of a ball the bill would crush into my forehead. That's no good, either. 

So do check this on all your rigs, and make the needed adjustments. 

For me, the HSM has always had very weak forehead protection. A plastic shell, with minimal padding. I recall some MLB guys really getting rocked when hit there. Now Wilson made a frame that went over the forehead for one guy, but it never went to market. Now F3 has finally come out with that same solution. So simple. So that would be the only one I'd consider if I were to buy a bucket again. (sorry to get off-track)

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2 hours ago, kylejt said:

Everyone is going to have a different combination of head size, hat length, helmet/mask and pads that it's really impossible to state what's going to be a concern with a blanket statement.

Me, I try to figure out if the bill of my hat is going to be a concern by trying to collapse the pads (or springs) and see if the bill is either exposed, or will be touching the frame. I recall trying on a "new view" (read: flat) frame, where my 8 stitch actually poked through the frame. Yeah, that's no good. Others would have the bill touching, or really close to the top rail of the eye opening of the frame, so when compressed by the blow of a ball the bill would crush into my forehead. That's no good, either. 

So do check this on all your rigs, and make the needed adjustments. 

For me, the HSM has always had very weak forehead protection. A plastic shell, with minimal padding. I recall some MLB guys really getting rocked when hit there. Now Wilson made a frame that went over the forehead for one guy, but it never went to market. Now F3 has finally come out with that same solution. So simple. So that would be the only one I'd consider if I were to buy a bucket again. (sorry to get off-track)

Great post. This is my favorite line and great piece of advice for all to follow.

”I try to figure out if the bill of my hat is going to be a concern by trying to collapse the pads (or springs) and see if the bill is either exposed, or will be touching the frame.”

You stayed on the safety theme with the helmet comment. All good. :))

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So does anyone have concerns about using the All-Star FM4000 steel with a 4-stitch? That's what I use, and they're is some gap between the bars and brim, but not a lot. I haven't taken a shot to my top pads yet so I can't say personally.

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25 minutes ago, Rock Bottom said:

So does anyone have concerns about using the All-Star FM4000 steel with a 4-stitch? That's what I use, and they're is some gap between the bars and brim, but not a lot. I haven't taken a shot to my top pads yet so I can't say personally.

Only you can answer that, RB. Try compressing the pads in the forehead, and see how much closer your bill will get to either touch the frame or get outside the frame. Your particular head shape is the variable here. 

 

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I've been using a HSM for a long time. I tried to wear a 4 stich under my bucket but could never pull off a complete game of removing my helmet without disturbing my hat or glasses at some point. I went almost a year wearing a hat to the plate meetings and then leaving it in the fence. Lost too many hats! About 5 or 6 years ago I started wearing a black skull cap under my bucket to protect myself from the AZ sun on my bald head. I found that I liked the feel of a layer between my head and the helmet. In addition, the material seems to wick sweat. I wear a skull cap night or day game and the only time I have to remove it is for the anthem.

I prefer a HSM because I believe it provides the best protection and visibility. The skull cap offers me the best compromise between proper appearance and functionality.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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Just to clarify, when @KenBAZ says "Skull cap", he means this:
image.png.6492175dde7a7f4cac948f1c927f2663.png

NOT one of these:
image.thumb.png.8650bc6f0b6fd30002c24339065945f9.png

However, when I say "doo-rag", I'm referring to these:
image.png.b3351e495067bf93356cb85a8784f092.png

Notice the draping tied ends. Don't care if it's in black, let's clean this up gentlemen.

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6 hours ago, KenBAZ said:

I've been using a HSM for a long time. I tried to wear a 4 stich under my bucket but could never pull off a complete game of removing my helmet without disturbing my hat or glasses at some point. I went almost a year wearing a hat to the plate meetings and then leaving it in the fence. Lost too many hats! About 5 or 6 years ago I started wearing a black skull cap under my bucket to protect myself from the AZ sun on my bald head. I found that I liked the feel of a layer between my head and the helmet. In addition, the material seems to wick sweat. I wear a skull cap night or day game and the only time I have to remove it is for the anthem.

I prefer a HSM because I believe it provides the best protection and visibility. The skull cap offers me the best compromise between proper appearance and functionality.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

@KenBAZ, that was you then a while back that caused those umpire cap sales to increase!;)

Thank you for sharing this. I support your wanting to wear a layer between your head and helmet for those benefits and not necessarily a cap.

I plan to share your insights with the product committee team, and perhaps this is a solution for others as well who wear the HSM.

Is there a particular brand of skull cap you like?

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The picture@MadMax's posted shows the type of skull cap I prefer. Usually they are what a football player might wear under their helmet. Under Armour or Nike make most of them. The challenge is to find one with an unobtrusive logo.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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