Kenji Johjima of the Mariners, like most catchers, wears his helmet backwards, but he often turns it around to face forward when congratulating a pitcher at the end of a game. Lots of other catchers do this too — nothing unusual about it. But something caught my eye when I saw this photo of Johjima at the end of Sunday’s Mariners/Padres game (here’s a larger view). What’s that little strip of plastic or rubber on the front — which is normally the back — of his helmet?
I nosed around a bit and found this. Apparently it’s designed to help keep the mask’s horizontal strap in place. Looks like Johjima’s been wearing it all season, even back in spring training. Johjima wears Nike gear, so maybe they’re the ones who came up with this (but he also wore Nike while playing in Japan and doesn’t appear to have worn the helmet attachment during those days). Or maybe the doohickey comes from Rawlings, which makes the helmet. Anyone know of any other catchers who wear this thing?
Speaking of catchers’ headwear: As longtime ESPN.com readers may recall, last year I tried to document as many instances as possible of catchers who wore brimless helmets, and came up with Duke Sims, Ron Hodges, Dave Valle, Bob Boone, Jim Sundberg, and Carlton Fisk (see the illustration at lower-right). Now Andrew Jobe has come up with another example: Ivan Rodriguez.
Getting back to Johjima, note that there’s no Mariners logo on his helmet. And that’s not the only logo-less helmet floating around out there: Alex Chiu points out that there was no Angels logo on Ervin Santana’s batting helmet last Sunday. Okay, so it was his first time batting, but if they managed to put his uni number on the back of the helmet, how come they couldn’t get the team logo on the front?
Correction: In Sunday’s entry, I wrote that the throwbacks recently worn by the Pirates and Indians were made by Majestic. But as I’ve now been duly apprised, they were actually made by AIS Uniforms, whose production coordinator, Steve Due, writes: “Those uniforms were cut from the patterns we made for the movie Babe. At present we’re knocking out period jerseys, warm-up suits, coaches’ shirts, etc. for the movie We Are Marshall. We also made everything for 61* and lots of other movies.” The company’s next MLB throwback project is a Negro Leagues tribute game between the Brewers and Nationals on June 2nd.