Fielding Face Masks Should Be Mandatory

The need for protective equipment has evolved and will continue to evolve. There was a time when players went on the field in nothing more than matching street clothes. We've come to realize that the threat of injury is real. It is also more probable than possible.

In baseball and softball, catchers wear full body protection. Batters wear helmets. Shin guards, elbow pads, gloves, shoulder pads and other protective gear have become commonplace. Any athlete playing a sport (baseball, softball, hockey, lacrosse, football, soccer, etc.), where the chance of injury is high, should wear the proper protection. Age, level of play and position are not important. Gender doesn't matter. You only get one body... one face... one head. You need to protect yourself.

It seems like common sense to most of us these days to cover our heads when a 90 MPH fast ball is being thrown at you. It seems unreal that batting helmets were not made mandatory in Major League Baseball until 1971! Despite the death of Ray Chapman in 1920 and countless head injuries that resulted in hospitalization, batting helmets were fairly uncommon in the major leagues until 1952, with the Pittsburgh Pirates the first major league team to permanently require their use.

So, today's batters are protected in every league. Now, let's take a minute to consider the needs of the fielders. A hit ball can return to the field at a speed of 80-110 MPH. With nothing more than a baseball cap protecting the fielders, it's a wonder nobody has required the use of defensive face guards in both baseball and softball. Football players wear helmets with cages (as well they should) and they don't have a missile being hit back at them! Designed properly, face guards offer protection without limiting the player's range of vision.

Baseball and Softball have each become more and more competitive. Pitching is harder and faster and added strength training allows players to throw and hit the ball farther, faster and with more accuracy. With this comes the need to protect yourself with the latest and greatest equipment. While we have yet to see a nationwide push toward defensive face guards, the time will come soon. But why wait for a mandate?

Each year we hear of players being hit in the face or head. Facial injuries can be devastating and life altering. Injuries to the mouth, teeth and eyes can cause expensive problems... both financially and emotionally. The orbital bones surrounding the eyes are thin and fragile... one hard hit can shatter those brittle bones and cause serious damage to the sinus cavities and/or loss of vision. A broken nose from a bad hop on a grounder, front teeth being knocked out, surgeries, stitches, missed games, pain, recovery and the emotional toll of an injury... We cringe at the videos, we sympathize with the stories and yet we keep hoping it won't be our child. It may never be, but why take the chance?

Need a Fielding Face Guard or other protective equipment? Check out our fielder's masks.


This article was originally published on August 7, 2015, and has been updated with new information.