Foul-tip trauma clarification

May 1, 2007

A clarification of the results of a student class project testing two styles of catchers' masks.

Four Kettering University students put their engineering education to work testing baseball catchers' masks recently. Inspired by the early retirement due to injury of professional baseball catcher Mike Matheny, of the San Francisco Giants, the four decided to test two common styles of mask for their Experimental Mechanics (MECH 514) class project.

The results of the student's class project testing were published at March 30. The tests performed on the catchers' masks by the students were not comprehensive nor were they intended for peer review.

All-Star Sports, the company that produced the masks tested by the students for their class project, has identified the following issues for clarification related to the students' testing:

  • The "hockey style" catcher's helmet tested was not the Major League? quality, but rather All-Star's basic Little League/High School "hockey style" catcher's helmet.
  • The Little League/High School "hockey style" catcher's helmet produced by All-Star is a different construction than the helmets All-Star provides to professional catchers.
  • All-Star's top-of-the-line "traditional" catcher's mask was tested by the Kettering students.
  • The helmets tested by the Kettering students were tested in two locations (the side of the head and the "nose" of the metal cage).
  • The data presented in the students' final report for these locations were from a single impact only.
  • All-Star maintains that the safety performance of a helmet cannot be characterized by hitting it once in the "nose" and once on the side.
  • All-Star maintains the data collected by the Kettering students is not substantiated by multiple, repeated trials.
  • The numerical figure of 9.814 g was misreported, and is actually 9.184 g.The impact velocity of each hit was not measured.
  • According to All-Star, the wide variation in the impact velocity does not allow for a fair comparison. (The students calculated the velocity using a change in momentum measurement.)
  • The students' test findings show that both the "traditional" and "hockey style" helmet are very protective. All of the reported peak g values are very safe, especially when considered within the context of peak g's that lead to concussions.
  • The lowest peak g value was measured on the forehead of the "hockey style" helmet with a reading of 2.876 g.
  • All-Star's basic Little League/High School "hockey style" helmet performs extremely well under Major League conditions.

Kettering apologizes for any misconceptions about All-Star products resulting from the students' test results.