A New Tool — or Doohickey — of Ignorance


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.

13 comments to A New Tool — or Doohickey — of Ignorance

  • AMS | May 23, 2006 at 10:05 am |

    I’ll never tire of that Ryan/Ventura photo…

  • mark | May 23, 2006 at 11:08 am |

    I disagree this is a “doohickey” of ignorance. not everything new is bad. once football players didn’t wear face guards and I’m sure the Uni Obsessed screamed bloody murder when those were added. once goalies didn’t wear masks and now we all consider that to be a great part of the uni.

    a piece of black rubber that keeps a catcher’s mask on looks pretty utilatarian to me. as long as it doesn’t have a Nike swoosh on it and has some functionality — bully for him.

  • John Cropp | May 23, 2006 at 11:51 am |

    I’ll take a doohickey over one of them damn hockey masks anyday.

    Especially the ones with the tacky biker-esque paint jobs.

  • Ed | May 23, 2006 at 12:31 pm |

    “The Tools of Ignorance” is a nickname for catcher’s gear. I think the title of this article referred to a new tool of ignorance in that vain.

  • Paul Lukas | May 23, 2006 at 12:49 pm |

    Yes, my use of “Ignorance” was a reference to the classic term for catchers’ gear. I actually think the doohickey is pretty cool.

  • nybatt | May 23, 2006 at 2:59 pm |

    as a career-long catcher, I wore the skull-cap, no-brim plastic helmet in the early 1990’s.. mostly because fisk was my favorite player…

    don’t know if anyone else is aware, but catchers playing high school basebal and below MUST wear the full hockey-mask helmet now… nothing else is allowed…

    how long before we are tracking the last MLB catcher to wear the old-style two-piece mask/helmet combo??


  • blaner | May 23, 2006 at 3:10 pm |

    brimless caps…….what is the world coming to?

  • Garry | May 23, 2006 at 6:23 pm |

    I remember bacn in 1987, when Jim Sundberg played for the Cubs,he wore no helmet at all;just a normal ballcap,like what catchers wore in the 50’s and 60’s.If I recall,He did this for quite a few games.Very,very cool.

  • Benjamin | May 23, 2006 at 6:56 pm |

    I also loved the Robin Ventura/Nolan Ryan photo, but I have to wonder what was going on in the photo with the two Marlins players. It looked like I might have interupted something.

  • Zach Smith | May 24, 2006 at 2:34 am |

    don’t know if anyone else is aware, but catchers playing high school basebal and below MUST wear the full hockey-mask helmet now… nothing else is allowed…

    having just finished a high school varsity baseball season myself, I will point out that, at least in texas, this is not a very well inforced rule. Most catchers do wear them just because they like them better, but I saw several of the old type throughout the season, even though I’d seen that the newer type are now technically required.

    I honestly don’t see why people hate the new ones so much. They actually are functional, they offer better protection, so they’re safer. Changes made to make my friends safer on the field are not going to bother me, and if someone wants to paint it thats up to them.

    I like a classic as much as the next guy, but people who claim that every new model or “modern” looking piece of equipment is ugly/terrible/crappy/worthless annoy me. Sometimes these new things are good. That being said, the new batting helmets don’t qualify.

  • Tom | May 25, 2006 at 7:09 pm |

    Also if you look at Johjima’s chest protector, it says ‘Joh’ in the top middle portion (below the chin).

  • Chris H | May 26, 2006 at 10:03 am |

    Speaking of the company AIS who’s doing the MLB throwback uni’s, the movie “The Replacements” was on TV last night and I noticed those were made by the AIS as well…man can that Keanu Reeves act!!!

  • rowboat77 | September 9, 2006 at 1:55 am |

    I don’t have a problem with the “doohickey,” but no one here has mentioned another option, one which happens to be my choice: just wear a cap. I’m not sure how common it is today, but one stalwart representative is my hometown catcher, Yadier Molina. As anyone can see, it doesn’t give him any trouble back there.