Despite Ray Chapman's deadly beaning in 1920, batting helmets were not made required in Major League Baseball until 1971, as a result of numerous years of hospitalizations due to head injuries. They had, however, been in use for some years before they were deemed required. From 1871 to 1970, there were only two known deaths due to hits by pitches.
During World War II, when many ballplayers were serving in the military, there was a decline in the number of deaths due to hits by pitches, but no such decline after the war. It wasn't until 1971 that major league players began being required to wear protective headgear. In 1972, a new rule was adopted requiring all major league players to wear helmets.
There have been several notable cases of players being injured by hits by pitches since the requirement was enacted. Mark McGwire and Jose Lima are two recent examples. In 1997, while playing for the New York Mets, Dave Kingman was killed by a pitch from Mike Morgan. The first recorded death due to a hit by pitch occurred in 1871. Ray Chapman was struck in the head by a pitch thrown by Charles Radbourn of the Cleveland Infants/Indians. He was taken to a hospital where he died four days later.
During the nineteenth century, no batter wore a helmet. "Gloves" were not popular until the late 1880s, while the baseball has had the same size, weight, and leather design since 1872. The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs attempted to regulate uniforms only once, in 1882. The American League adopted this rule at its founding in 1901, but soon after removed it for the purpose of competition fairness.
Batter's helmets first appeared in the major leagues in 1895, when they were mandated by the Major League Rules Committee. The requirement was quickly dropped, but it proved so popular that it was reinstated in 1902. It was again made optional during the season, but all players now were required to wear one. The last batter to go unprotected was Babe Ruth on April 13, 1920.
After the 1912 season, there was a major change in the look of baseball when the Boston Red Sox introduced a new style of uniform featuring short sleeves and a flat front with a pleat down the center. The Philadelphia Athletics followed suit a few months later. These are considered the first true modern baseball uniforms. From then on, every team wore some version of these designs until the 1970s, when they were replaced by overalls-style clothing.
In 2001, Major League Baseball approved a new batting helmet designed to reduce the risk of head injuries. This is the only thing that batters wear today.
Some athletes in the ultra-masculine sports world believed that wearing helmets made them seem weak. Others found the additional equipment to be distracting or overly heavy. In any case, they'd rather risk harm, if not death, than play baseball their way. It would take more than two decades after Chapman's death for a team to require head protection.
It all boils down to comfort and performance for the dozen or so guys who don't wear batting gloves at all. Mark Grace played in the major leagues for 16 seasons, the majority of which he did not use batting gloves.
They were created in the same manner as ordinary baseball caps, but with protecting plate inserts. These hats did not provide the kind of protection that we have today, but they were a start in the right direction. The first models of today's fortified batting helmets appeared in the early 1950s. They are made largely of plastic and can be painted to match the uniform of the ballplayer who wears them.
During World War II, soldiers on bases outside of America wore plates on their heads to protect from bullets and shrapnel. When they returned home, these men wanted to play sports too, so baseball players started wearing helmets to prevent injuries. By the late 1940s, all major league players were wearing them.
The modern baseball helmet consists of three parts: a hard plastic shell, a face mask for eye protection, and a headband to hold it all together. The earliest ones used by Major League Baseball (MLB) players were made of leather and had only one piece of plastic attached to the top of the shell. That was where the name "leather helmet" came from. Modern helmets are now made mostly of plastic and include many different pieces that can be removed or added as needed. For example, a pitcher might remove his headband and face mask before he pitches so that he does not get hurt if he makes an error. In addition, coaches often use scrub caps which are similar to regular helmets but without the visor or chin strap.
2006 Softball batters have been obliged to wear a helmet with a face mask since 2006. The purpose is to prevent hits to the head from causing injuries such as concussion. A batter who is unable to put on a helmet for any reason will be given one by the umpire. The ball can hit any part of the body with force, so protection is recommended.
The first female baseball player to wear a face mask was Sue Bellantoni of the Washington Senators in 1991. She wore them to protect her eyes from foul balls. As more women started playing baseball, others began following suit. They believed that they were able to hit farther-flying pitches if they could see the ball coming towards their bodies. The face mask became standard issue in all levels of baseball around 2000.
In 2001, there was a case in which a pitcher's face mask caused him to suffer an epileptic seizure. After this incident, major league baseball teams stopped using leather face masks made in China because they were prone to leak. Now they are made out of plastic or metal. In addition, there is now less contact between pitchers and hitters due to the use of protective screens. These developments have helped reduce the number of injuries to pitchers and hitters alike.
1979 It wasn't until the death of Bill Masterton in 1968 that NHL players were more sympathetic to the concept of wearing helmets. It took the National Hockey League until 1979 to make helmets obligatory for new players. Veteran players might still choose whether or not to wear one.
The rule was introduced in an effort to protect players from their own fists. In those days, there was no legal checking allowed in hockey and players could score a goal just by hitting their opponent with their shoulder.
The first player penalized for not wearing a helmet was Bob Kelly of the Philadelphia Flyers. He received a penalty shot against him by Al MacNeil of the New York Islanders. The ruling on the ice judge's call was that Kelly had taken too long to put on his helmet; therefore, he was unable to shoot first. The Islanders went on to win the game 5-4 in overtime.
Kelly didn't return to the ice until after the first period was over. By then, his teammates had already gone back to play defense, so there was nothing else for him to do. The rule was soon after amended to specify that if a player was unable to put on his helmet in time, an assistant coach could help him out.