Every season we look at each item in each category and evaluate it on sales, returns and your feedback. Those in their categories that you buy more of, return less of and comment most favorably on receive the Customer Choice distinction.
This year, we are adding more Customer' Choice items for baseball or softball umpiring than we ever have making this year's selection our highest quality selection ever. And here they are:
Wilson Shock FX Titanium Helmet 2.0
No surprise here after all the changes Wilson made to this helmet designated by Midwest Umpire Blog as the best new item on the market. The only consistent concern with this helmet is that it does not fit those outside of the head size range of 7 to 7 5/8.
Wilson Titanium Umpire Mask with All-Black Padding
We have done so well with this new special order mask in a standard profile it has quickly become our best selling titanium mask. Umpires love the sleek silver and black look.
The only downside to titanium is that it does seem to bend a little more on balls traveling at high velocity than steel and aluminum alloy masks. I'm not talking alarming numbers, and masks are made to protect rather than to be indestructible anyway. I don't have concrete numbers, but I might guess 1 in 100 on the titanium vs. 1 in 300 on the others. Again, just a guess-timate.
Reebok Plate and Base Umpire Shoes
This year, Reebok has basically re-designed most of its umpire shoe selection. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, especially from the lighter plate shoe and new-found choices between a white logo or all-black look on both the plate and base versions.
The shoes have their limits, however, in a lack of choice of all-black looks being found only in low-cut shapes and very limited wide width options altogether (only in mid-cut with white logo), both issues I plan to encourage Reebok to correct for 2011. So let's place an asterisk on this selection shall we? And you guys with wide feet can simply ignore it (or you can send e-mails to Reebok via Sherry at email@example.com, and she will pass them along).
Shock Doctor Titan Cup
Who would have thought a protective cup that cost 2 to 3 times that of others would become one of our best selling cups? Well, helped by being featured in Referee Magazine and it's multiple features of consisting of virtually indestructible stainless steel and it's only 1 ounce heavier weight than the Shock Doctor Power Carbon Cup, it has.
Smitty Umpire Shirts
Although a little heavier in weight, they still provide good wicking even in hot weather. Those features plus the price make them truly the best value shirts on the market, a claim backed by the same designation in the Midwest Umpire Blog in-depth review of 7 umpire shirts on the market.
We, however, do admit to making the mistake of not adding more Smitty shirt colors for this year's selection. We will correct that in 2011 by adding a few additional shirt colors.
Items No Longer Receiving Customer Choice Designation
Wilson Titanium Two-Tone Umpire Mask
Although not a bad mask or seller in any way, the all-black mask mentioned above has just become the preferred choice for 2010 for most. If you prefer a two-tone, by all means, order one and you will be more than pleased with your choice.
Pro Nine Umpire Chest Protector
Each year, we sell more less of this chest protector and more of Diamond's iX3 protector. This year, we can't ignore the fact that the slightly more protective Diamond version is the one that umpires truly prefer.
View All 40+ Umpire Customer Choice Items
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