Saturday night, the Padres Alex Torres became the first MLB pitcher to wear a new protective hat in a game. The hat is not known for its style, but could certainly help save a life if hit in the head.
Getting hit in the head thankfully does not happen all too often in a baseball game, but when it does, it is always scary. A couple of years ago Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head while pitching for Oakland, and nearly died from the injury. Earlier this year in spring training, the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face by a line drive.
Torres told MLB.com that he was not immune to some teasing for the appearance of the hat, as it will not be be worn by runway models anytime soon.
“It could save our lives if someone hits a ball to your head. I get it for free, so I’m just going to use it to see how it feels.”
Player safety is always a good issue to address, whether it be concussions in football or face masks in hockey. You have to prepare for the worst-case scenario, and this hat is the first step in making things better.
This is not completely a unique situation. John Olerud used to wear a helmet in the field all the time after brain surgery as a child. Torres noted that he had to come in for relief after watching team mate Alex Cobb get hit in the head last season. After a Braves minor league base coach was killed several years ago, now all base coaches wear helmets.
However, it is not without some controversy. Brandon McCarthy himself has said that he does not plan on wearing the hat until the style improves and it is more wearable. Yet Torres started the trend, which will only help filter more changes in for the future. If it saves just one life or serious injury, it is worth not being fashionable.