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SeeingEyeDog

All-Star FM25TI Titanium Mask...new?

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Nope, been around awhile. I think Jeff Kellog (?) either wears or used to wear one. Supposedly the double-bar design has made it such that All-Star has never replaced one due to it denting.

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No offense to anyone who would like it, but I don't understand why anyone would want that over the FM4000 steel or mag. It's heavier than the steel even, and 3.5x more. Other than if one likes the looks better, is there some benefit to it over the FM4000?

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I wore this for many years. It’s a great mask.  Traditional shaped. Works with any pads (LUC or TW). Absolutely bullet proof.  Got mine on sale for far less.  Like a fool I sold it when I had a short lived love affair with a Rampage.  

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1 hour ago, boyinr said:

 Like a fool I sold it when I had a short lived love affair with a Rampage.  

What didn't you like about the Rampage?

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7 hours ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

I have never seen one of these or heard anyone talk about one...

Ah, the All-Star FM25-Ti-II. The strongest of the “titanium generation”. Whereas the iconic Nike Titanium was the first, and the most celebrated of these titanium masks (and why I nicknamed it “the Icon”), the FM-25-Ti was the workhorse.

Unlike the other three titanium masks, the FM-25-Ti was a dual-wire, full bowl design, with oversized ear guards and the durability to withstand some tremendous punishment. All of the Nike -sponsored catchers favored the Icon, while the All-Star -sponsored catchers used MVP HSMs or the FM-25. Most tenured umpires favored the sleekness, svelteness, and single-bar styling of the Icon such that Wilson felt compelled to introduce their own model (the “billy-goat chin guard” Platinum -edition Dynalite). The thinness of the mask bars became highly desirable, and All-Star began to pursue a change in geometry to strengthen the bars and increase deflection. This pursuit resulted in the FM4000 (and FM2000, which was for umpires, but is no longer produced), but due to the unique geometry, was only fabricated in hollow steel. 

At about this same time, Wilson started to take losses in their Dynalite models, not only in market share but also in returns and replacements on the titanium models, which would bend under extreme impacts, compelling upset users to file a customer service claim. A malicious rumor was circulated that titanium was “dangerous”. Diamond had landed a runaway hit with their aluminum iX3, which demonstrated that aluminum was lightweight, wouldn’t bend, and wouldn’t corrode (thus, not needing vinyl dip).

5 hours ago, Rock Bottom said:

Other than if one likes the looks better, is there some benefit to it over the FM4000?

The looks are the primary thing, but there is something to be said about how radically different the geometry is between the FM25 and the FM4000. Major League Baseball players are a vain lot. Most umpires had gotten so accustomed, though, to single wire bars that double wire bars fell out of fashion.

4 hours ago, boyinr said:

when I had a short lived love affair with a Rampage.  

Probably that it didn’t feel right with the pads that were available on the market at the time... ay? I’m speculating that the new WindPact CC pads will be ideal in the Rampage, and will make it near-perfect.

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10 hours ago, kylejt said:

What didn't you like about the Rampage?

As always @MadMax is spot on. I didn't care for the way the chin pad of the TW pads fit on the shape of the bars.  Bought it right, tried it out, sold it quick at a small loss.  Done it many times in search of the perfect mask.  Not sure why I do it as I always seem to come back to my original steel All-Star FM-25 (currently with Tony getting a make over) and a Diamond BL. 

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Thanks, @MadMax for the historical perspective! (Someday, I'd love to see someone do a historical umpire mask timeline with pictures to really show how the mask has evolved since the game began...) I have always liked the look of those vintage 3 bar masks although I'm guessing I wouldn't like looking OUT from behind one of those.

And yes, @boyinr, I just did the same combination...Rampage with TW and found the TW pads just don't want to stay positioned properly on the frame. I find myself once or twice an inning squeezing the pads down the frame. It's unsafe, it's unprofessional, it's bad optics, it's just a general nuisance and it's going to prematurely wear out the TW pads. I was trying to figure out a way to maybe tie down the TW pads with shoelaces in between games to shape them to the frame better but, yes...as Max also said, a set of WindPact CC's would be ideal for the Rampage and I am trying to run some down...

~Dog

 

 

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That's interesting. I've got TW's in my Rampage, and that setup fits my face just perfectly. But as my TW's age, I'd certainly entertain the WindPact's.

 

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18 hours ago, BlueRanger said:

I think Jeff Kellog (?) either wears or used to wear one.

No, Jeff Kellogg typically wears a Wilson DynaLiTanium... was a billy-goat chin one, now in the latest, “better” planform. While only a couple of umpires still use a double-wire catcher’s mask – Phil Cuzzi with an old-school Wilson stagger-bar, and Fieldin Culbreath with a standard FM25 – I haven’t seen any umpire using a FM25-Ti-II. The ear guards are yuuuuuuge on it. Curiously, the FM25-Ti-II has been used by several MLB catchers relabeled with their sponsor’s pads, such as Mizuno, UnderArmour, or Adidas.

image.thumb.jpeg.590f5f2e33ae98754d2ed8d77e22e6ca.jpeg

I need to take this opportunity to once again remind the group that Titanium is not the enemy. Poor fit (one of @kylejt‘s stumping points) and pathetic pads are the enemies here. Titanium got unfairly vilified by folks in MLB, likely fueled by Wilson’s woes with selling and servicing their existing titanium models. Titanium has several distinct traits that have to be explained:

  • It is favored for its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio. It is very low-density. It is also, due to its oxidation, non-corrosive.
  • Because it is non-corrosive, it is very particular in its welding process.
  • Because it is so strong, yet light, it is heavily sought out by a number of products and processes for specific purposes; as such, it’s availability to the sporting goods industry comes at a premium cost.
  • While it is ductile, it is not very malleable; it requires very abrupt, direct, heavy amounts of pressure or energy to bend it or work it. It will bend, albeit to a substantial, abrupt force. Then, the greater the amount of time that passes, the more set and hardened the metal becomes to that shape. To bend it back, it requires the same or greater force, exerted with the same suddenness that put it in that shape from the start.
  • Because of its low density, it has low mass; consequently, there’s not much there to absorb excess energy, and transfers energy (such as heat) very quickly, near instantly.

So, what does this mean to us umpires and catchers using titanium masks? It means that, while our titanium mask is very light, a high-energy impact may / will bend a bar, and to bend it back will require much more effort (a machine press) than a few whacks from a dead-blow hammer. Also, that impact energy will not be absorbed or dampened by the mask, but instead transfer to the next material “in line” – the pads.

When titanium masks were first introduced, mask pads were simple sausages of leather filled with open-cell foam and wool. Then, when it was discovered that the mask bars were just as likely to miss the pads and collide with the wearer, due to a poor fit, pads began to be cut and shaped to fit the mask they were paired with. Technical fabrics were introduced, to wick sweat away and afford a better fit in response to the pads themselves increasing in volume. Wilson wrapped their leather pads around the bars. Nike put gel inside the Icon’s pads. Team Wendy appeared on the scene with Zorbium. Only recently have pads finally been under the spotlight as the real culprit in the equation.

It’s the pads, pads, pads.

Unfortunately, there was little attention paid to pads other than “change them yearly because UV & ozone breaks them down”. This has merit, but gave the manufacturers a pass on putting any advanced materials or practices into their pads, as it would drive the price up beyond “purchasable”. To be fair, the previous on-shelf retail model did nobody any favors. In order to be a (re)sellable mask, it’s gotta have pads, right? And what good are advanced pads doing when they’re sitting on a shelf, driving up the sticker price, dissuading customers who don’t understand the qualities and differences in pads beyond color, and balk at it.

 

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The only player I remember seeing wear this mask was Wilson Contreras for the Cubs. And that was for only one season. If not less.

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I don’t recall any mlb guys wearing the FM25 titanium...but back in the day a number of mlb guys wore the black non titanium FM25.  I wore this frame for a few years and loved it.

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8 hours ago, FranklinT said:

I don’t recall any mlb guys wearing the FM25 titanium...but back in the day a number of mlb guys wore the black non titanium FM25.  I wore this frame for a few years and loved it.

There are still a few that wear the hollow steel FM25. Being on the west coast, I see Jim Reynolds' crew a lot on TV. And he wears the hollow steel. I believe Culbreth wears one as well.

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On 9/15/2020 at 10:45 AM, BT_Blue said:

I believe Culbreth wears one as well.

Oh yeah? What’d I say earlier?

On 9/12/2020 at 1:03 PM, MadMax said:

Phil Cuzzi with an old-school Wilson stagger-bar, and Fieldin Culbreth with a standard FM25...

I see how it is. Arik, you’re not reading my novels posts anymore! :crybaby2:

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especially when the novel is quite...……………...you guessed it...…………. novel.

 

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11 hours ago, MadMax said:

Oh yeah? What’d I say earlier?

I see how it is. Arik, you’re not reading my novels posts anymore! :crybaby2:

Wait... you posted?;)

Honestly I couldn't remember if that got brought up here or somewhere else. Lol

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On 9/15/2020 at 11:45 AM, BT_Blue said:

There are still a few that wear the hollow steel FM25. Being on the west coast, I see Jim Reynolds' crew a lot on TV. And he wears the hollow steel. I believe Culbreth wears one as well.

Correct. Culbreth is funny his frame used to be beat to s$&t.  Not sure if this is current or not...haven’t seen him work in a while.

Its a great frame though.

98C4613C-A301-4449-BE22-3D2287A09B1E.jpeg

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2 minutes ago, FranklinT said:

Correct. Culbreth is funny his frame used to be beat to s$&t.  Not sure if this is current or not...haven’t seen him work in a while.

Its a great frame though.

98C4613C-A301-4449-BE22-3D2287A09B1E.jpeg

That's how Cuzzi's mask normally looks too.   The funny thing is that this isn't even a newer FM25 with All Star's I-bar technology for the eye bars... this is the original round bar mask!

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1 hour ago, wolfe_man said:

That's how Cuzzi's mask normally looks too.   The funny thing is that this isn't even a newer FM25 with All Star's I-bar technology for the eye bars... this is the original round bar mask!

Funny.....

C166A43D-C78C-4774-9E32-3FF1D24918FA.jpeg

238DB776-7E80-4A75-B5BA-C8A560E4362C.jpeg

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9 minutes ago, FranklinT said:

Funny.....

C166A43D-C78C-4774-9E32-3FF1D24918FA.jpeg

238DB776-7E80-4A75-B5BA-C8A560E4362C.jpeg

Man, you'd almost believe they're using the same mask!  But, they're not.. Cuzzi's is a Wilson and Culbreth's is  an All Star.   The first bar up from the eye port gives them away.  The Wilson's is still round/half-oval whereas the All Star comes to a point like a V.  Also, the inverted U-bar on the bottom of the Wilson widens out more than the All Star does (look at the bottom pad middle strap to see the difference).  

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2 hours ago, MadMax said:

Fellow umpires and gear-nuts... -> @wolfe_man <- the man knows his masks.

I'll add something about the Culbreth mask--it was probably made in the early 2000s. In the 90s, the All-Star throat extension looked short and rectangular when viewed from the front: https://fourseamimages.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Milwaukee-Brewers-1999/G0000mhtRRZ4EWXU/I0000B9pXDg5vvGw/C0000FD_ngc.POSk

It was lengthened a few years after that, and the I-bar was no later than 2008, giving us some window from 2000-2007 (potentially narrower if someone can get more info.)

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Seeing these masks close up makes me think of the shower shoe scene in Bull Durham.   

 

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