Lukas: Giancarlo Stanton’s facemask-helmet is not the first

From SABR member Paul Lukas at on March 4, 2015:

As you might have heard by now, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, whose 2014 season was ended prematurely by a fastball to the face, has been wearing a face-mask attachment on his batting helmet this spring. It looks a lot like a football face mask but with one crucial difference: It’s been personalized with a “G” — Stanton’s first initial.

Stanton is, to Uni Watch’s knowledge, the first MLB player to have a personalized element on his mask. But he’s far from the first to wear a face-guard attachment on his helmet, and he’s not even the first to wear a football-style mask. With that in mind, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit a few of the ballplayers who’ve commingled the gridiron and the diamond by putting football-style face masks on their batting helmets:

Dave Parker, Pirates, 1978: Any discussion of specialized baseball headgear has to begin with the Cobra. After fracturing his jaw and cheekbone in a home plate collision with Mets catcher John Stearns on May 30, 1978, he returned to the lineup a few weeks later and quickly cycled through a series of bizarre-looking attempts to protect his injured face.

Parker began by wearing a hockey goalie mask, which had been cut off at the top so he could still wear his batting helmet. He wore this for only one plate appearance, the result of which was an intentional walk. (Who could blame the opposing team for not wanting to pitch to a guy who looked like a masked menace?) He then kept the mask on while running the bases.

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Originally published: March 4, 2015. Last Updated: March 4, 2015.