Facemasks Part II: Baseball Gets In the Act
In this second entry on facemasks, RetroCards looks at the world of baseball. Broken jaws are not uncommon in that sport and one early attempt at adding a facemask to a baseball helmet can be traced to Dave Parker (photos 1-4) in 1978 when he first used a hockey mask he purchased at a sporting goods store to protect a broken jaw. An intimidating player without the mask, he probably intimidating opposing pitchers with this unique choice until he switched to a football facemask which afforded him better vision. The same goes for Ellis Valintine of the Expos (photos 5-6), where he wore a cut-in-half football facemask after a March 1980 injury to his cheekbone where it was shattered in 6 places. In another instance, Gary Roenicke used a football facemask after being hit in the mouth with a fastball that caused 25 stitches. He went to the Baltimore Colts locker room and used quarterback Bert Jones' mask, screwing it onto his batting helmet (photo 9). He had a more stylized one made eventually (photo 10). Meanwhile, photo 8 shows an unidentified minor leaguer using a rather large cage to protect the throat area. Photo 7 shows current player Giancarlo Stanton with a sensible and customized mask to protect his matinee idol face. Will these become standard equipment in major league baseball? Probably.