If you didn't hear about Kerwin Danley, MLB umpire who lost consciousness from a 95 MPH fastball he took to the lower jaw area in a game 4/27, read the article.
He was treated and released from the hospital so he's ok. But after hearing about this the first time, I looked for the video online to figure what kind of mask he was wearing. I know that's not the typical thought someone has, but I'm also the only one at a game who watches the umpires as much as I do the players.
He was wearing a Wilson West Vest Dyna-Lite Umpire Mask with two-tone wrap around pads. So, did this mask fail him? Should umpires not wear it at this level? I hear that kind of talk from time to time, where someone says "I took a really hard shot and it really hurt (or I got a bruise or occasionally even a minor concussion), and I'm beginning to think this mask (or other protective gear) is not appropriate for this level."
Although such thinking could be accurate in some cases and perhaps even in this one (hockey style helmet with more angles?), Mr. Danley's mask had the thicker-than-most-other-masks Wilson padding that wraps partially around the frame that is typical of other West Vest Dyna-Lite masks worn by other MLB umpires. In other words, he could not have been more protected in a traditional style mask.
So how did this mask not fail him if it gave him a concussion and sent him to the hospital? My answer, is simple: The mask protected him from being severely wounded or killed from the 2,400 pounds of force a 95 MPH delivers. Saying otherwise would be like saying a bulletproof vest failed when a police officer suffered a broken rib and bruised lung when he (or she) was shot at point blank range.
One last note: I had commented about some competitors wrongly claiming that Wilson's mask padding were "anti-concussion" in a past blog post titled "Are Competitor Claims Putting Umpires at Risk?". It's worthy of a re-read in light of this story.
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