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The Invention of the Catcher's Mask

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Baseball History

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The sport of baseball was very young in the 1870s. Rules were still being revised, but players stuck with the game allegedly invented by Abner Doubleday some years before.

One of the innovations of the late 1870s was a face mask for the catcher. Because the catcher squatted behind home plate, he was often the target of a foul ball or a flying bat. After what can be assumed to be a series of facial injuries, baseball was in the mood for a catcher's mask.

One of the first to be widely used by invented by Frederick Thayer in 1876. Back then, the materials of today weren't available. Thayer built an oblong wire frame that housed a series of pads made of animal skin. The original idea was more protection than comfort, and catchers complained after having to wear the mask for long periods of time. Still, they were protected from errant bats and balls.

Thayer improved his device a bit and received a patent for it two years later, on February 12, 1878. The catcher's mask was off and running.

Through the years, the mask has evolved to be even larger but still more comfortable than earlier models. Many of today's catchers wear masks that resemble hockey masks.

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