Uni Watch: The Earflap Chronicles, Continued

From SABR member Paul Lukas at Uni Watch on August 29:

As longtime readers are aware, I’m mildly obsessed with the history of the baseball earflap. Here’s a brief recap of what I’ve previously reported:

1940: White Sox second baseman Jackie Hayes suffers repeated beanings and fashions a primitive helmet that includes an earflap. (Over three decades later, Hayes is quoted in this article saying, “I was the first to wear a batting helmet.”)

1961: After Twins catcher Earl Battey is hit by a pitch that breaks his jaw, equipment manager Ray Crump helps to devise an improvised earflap for his helmet. Battey’s teammate Tony Oliva later wears a similar contraption, at least in batting practice, as does yet another Twin, Jimmie Hall, in the 1965 World Series.

1964: Tony Gonzalez of the Phillies is beaned and soon begins wearing a helmet with a pre-molded earflap. This appears to be the first helmet designed to include the flap.

Up until now, those have been the major dates on the earflap timeline. But we’re going to have to add a new chapter to the annals of flappery now that the increasingly indispensable Mike Hersh has found this article from the September 1920 issue of The American Hatter.

Read the full article here: http://www.uni-watch.com/2011/08/29/new-evidence-of-earliest-baseball-batting-helmet-and-earflap/

Originally published: August 29, 2011. Last Updated: August 29, 2011.