The idea of pitchers wearing helmets as they pitch is not very popular among baseball purists. But given the recent head and facial injuries of some professional pitchers, mandating helmets for pitchers might be worth discussing.
The need to protect pitchers from line drives in baseball
When a baseball comes rocketing off the batter’s bat, a pitcher often has little or no time to react and get out of the way. If that ball hits him in the head or face, he can suffer a skull or facial fracture, brain hemorrhage or eye damage.
At the high school and college levels, pitchers hit with a batted ball comprise the second most common mechanism of injury, making up 34% of all of the catastrophic injuries.
Recently Major League Baseball had tests performed on two prototypes of padded baseball caps. Apparently none of these four padded caps were effective against baseballs traveling over 100 mph.
Shoulder pitchers wear helmets?
Does baseball then need to explore helmets with some sort of protective visor or cage over the face?
MLB pitchers would likely resist any effort to mandate that type of equipment. Their peripheral vision could be impaired, making it difficult to hold runners on base. The helmets also might subtly affect their pitch deliveries. I suspect that if given the option, most pitchers would refuse to wear helmets and accept the small risk of injury, even if that risk is potentially fatal.
While professional pitchers will probably resist any change requiring a helmet, younger pitchers might be more willing to wear them. They can grow accustomed to them since they have not pitched with normal baseball caps for long.
While the chances of suffering an injury getting hit in the head or face with a ball coming off a player’s bat are not high, these events can be devastating if they occur. These helmets could help pitchers avoid catastrophic injuries.