Many people within baseball circles are questioning whether masks should be required not just while batting but also for those on the field to protect players from line drives and other forceful plays.
With so many softball players choosing to wear protective shields these days, why don’t baseball players wear face masks?
Many studies have shown that youth and adult baseball players alike suffer from some of the highest rates of dental damage, facial injuries, and concussions than many other sports.
Let’s take a look at some popular opinions from professionals and players.
- Baseball players suffer from some of the highest rates of dental damage, facial injuries, and concussions than many other sports.
- Baseball players really should wear baseball helmets with face masks.
- The average pitching speed is right around 91 mph.
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Why Don’t Baseball Players Wear Face Masks?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask, yet, the majority are saying that they should, particularly in the little leagues and high school baseball.
This is backed up by USSSA Umpire, Vincent Vanyo, who believes younger kids are physically more fragile and would benefit from wearing face shields. This statement sums up every other opinion perfectly.
If you don’t want to take an umpire’s word for it, how about a pediatrician? Christy Collins, a pediatric doctor who works for the Nation Wide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and specializes in conducting studies on children’s injuries, feels that everyone on the infield, from the pitcher to the shortstop, should wear a baseball helmet that provides face shields to protect kids playing the game.
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If you were to ask the coaches? Their perspectives are divided; while some think it may be beneficial if it can save a kid from concussions or broken facial bones, they aren’t sure these injuries happen enough to require the burden of a mask over their face the whole game.
Do MLB Players Wear Face Masks in the Field?
You will notice that more and more players in the MLB are beginning to wear helmets with jaw and cheekbone guards (or flaps) when they are up to bat. This trend started a few years ago, with one or two players per team opting to use them but are now used more often than not.
Why? The average pitching speed is right around 91MPH, with some pros pitching more than 100MPH. Taking a ball at rocket speed to your face could be life-altering and should be avoided at all costs.
The question here is, why would the one on the plate have a face cover connected to their baseball helmet when the average existing speed for an MLB ball after being hit with a bat is just as fast? In-field players have nothing but a soft hat covering their heads.
It all has to do with player comfort and performance. How long can a pitcher perform with a helmet covering his face? Some players have mentioned how weird it felt to use the mask and helmets, while others said it was something they could get used to.
Should Baseball Players Wear Face Masks on College Teams?
Just like responses from the pros, college-level players were all over the map on whether or not they believed a face cage and helmet should be required on the infield.
The most popular answer was that the decision should be the player’s choice. If a player felt more comfortable with the added protection, then go for it. However, those who don’t want it shouldn’t be required to use it.
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Problems with Requiring Baseball Players to Wear Masks
Again, the answer regarding problems is very different from person to person, but the most common reasons people don’t believe baseball players should have to wear face masks include:
- It’s an obstacle for the pitcher to have to pitch around
- It’s uncomfortable and can get hot
- It’s unnecessary
- Injuries don’t occur often enough to require face shields on the field
In a 2017 interview, TCU pitcher, Brian Howard, said that he understands the dangers presented by pitchers being hit with line drives. However, he doesn’t believe it happens often enough that facemasks should be required, yet.
Which naturally leads to the question of ‘when’ then? How many times does serious injury or even death have to occur to make baseball helmets with a face shield on the field and at the batting box a requirement, pitchers included?
Howard stated during the 2017 interview with USA Today, “It’s scary when it happens. It’s definitely a big deal, but it’s not something that I’ve seen too often.”
While many people may argue that it isn’t something that was ever done in the past, that could simply be because the option wasn’t available to them back then.
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Summing Up, Should Baseball Players Wear Face Masks?
Although this seems like a popular option, especially in minor leagues, and many people are all for it, it doesn’t look like there will be any requirements, at least at the adult level, anytime soon. We will have to rely on education and proper training to keep our ballplayers safe. Keep those gloves up, team.
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