After writing last week about MLB’s new sock deal, one new piece of equipment that has been trending this season is the matte batting helmet. While many younger fans will look at the matte helmet as a fresh take on a stale, staple piece of safety, it is actually a call back to a retro look.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were early adopters of the matte lid. It gave lots of older fans or those like me, who love the vintage baseball styles, a nice homage to flocked helmets of the 1960s and 1970s.
The batting helmet became mandatory for major league players in 1956. During that introductory period, many teams and players would have the helmets flocked. In this context, flocking, was a process to adhere fiber particles to the plastic shell. Depending on how it came out, these helmets had either a fuzzy, cloth like, or velvet appearance. It was an attempt to make the helmets look like the caps.
For the longest time, the glossier looking helmets have been the standard. Now, the game is seeing many long standing franchises adopting the matte style. Teams such as the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies have converted to matte looks. The New York Yankees just unveiled them recently. The Los Angeles Dodgers not only have matte helmets but also raised logos.
It would be unfair to talk about baseball style trends without mentioning that many college baseball and softball teams have been wearing matte batting helmets. Be sure to check them out while watching the College World Series over the next few weeks.
It will be interesting to see how this trend will remain in the league. Will more teams join in? Will the old glossy batting fall out of favor? While I do not mind the look of the matte, thinking of the old flocked helmets, I would not mind seeing other teams or players keep the glossy helmets. I like choices, which is something the league has been okay with. What are your takes on these new lids?