One of the scariest things things for a pitcher is a screaming line drive coming off a bat directly at his head. A pitcher might make an amazing catch or dodge the ball, but way too often he is painfully, even catastrophically, struck by it. To address this problem and reduce injuries, MLB has in the past encouraged pitchers to wear protective headgear, but nothing has really stuck.
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The MLB and the MLB Players Association got together and decided that during spring training this year, 20 pitchers will wear newly designed protective headgear. Developed by Boombang, the new headgear looks like a cross between a batting helmet and a baseball cap. It has a carbon fiber shell that protects the temple and forehead and a single earflap that guard the pitcher's dominant side.
The new headgear would definitely make the game safer for pitchers. It has passed laboratory tests with impact collisions up to 85 mph. But despite its safety benefits and concessions to style, most pitchers still won't wear it. Some will say it's uncomfortable and some that it interferes with their pre-pitch ritual, but many players just flat out don't like the idea.
Whatever the case, MLB will keep looking for ways to make the game safer for pitchers. But unless headgear for pitchers is made mandatory, we doubt that it will find widespread acceptance.
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