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The Naked Truth: MLB Catcher Flashes Bald Head Under Mask

For all photos, click to enlarge

Catchers who wear a conventional, old-style mask are required to wear a helmet under the mask. No helmet is required for catchers who wear the hockey-style mask, but most of them wear a backwards cap.

Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings, however, doesn’t wear anything beneath his hockey-style mask. This might not be noticeable if he had a full head of hair (or maybe even if he were Black), but he shaves his head, so his bare scalp is clearly visible between his mask and his backplate, which makes for an odd look.

Here’s another shot:

Stallings has been in the bigs for a while now (he was with the Pirates from 2016 through 2021 before being traded to the Marlins last winter), but I never noticed this part of his game before. Did he used to wear a cap under his mask, or maybe he used to let his hair grow?

Nope, and nope. He’s always gone without the cap during his MLB career, and he’s always shaved his head. But until this year, it was much harder to see any evidence of his bare pate peeking out from under his mask, which is presumably why I never noticed it before:

So what changed to make Stallings’s head more visible this season? Answer: He switched mask manufacturers. Stallings now wears a Force3 mask (that’s the spring-cushioned brand I wrote about for ESPN a few years ago). At first I thought, “Oh, the Force3 backplate is smaller, so it doesn’t cover as much of his head.” And that’s part of it, but the real story is that the Force3 mask itself has less head coverage than Stallings’ previous brand, All-Star. Here’s a comparison:

The design difference probably wouldn’t be apparent if Stallings wore a cap under his mask, and/or if he had a full head of hair. (Indeed, there may be other catchers who don’t wear a cap under their Force3 hockey-style mask, but it just doesn’t stand out as much because they don’t shave their heads.)

I love that I can be writing about uniforms for more than two decades and still learn new things, still see things I haven’t seen before. I’m not sure I’d call this one peak Uni Watch, but it’s definitely one of those inconspicuous little details that I love geeking out over. Hope you enjoyed this one too.

(Big thanks to Mike Ortman for bringing Stallings’s unusual headwear style to my attention.)

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• • • • •

Christie/Seaver saga, continued: The reference in yesterday’s post to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responding to my Tom Seaver statue article by saying, “Get a life!” generated a lot of fun responses (including, hilariously, Twitter-er @MaxellXLII saying, “Time for some traffic problems at Uni Watch HQ”). The most interesting response came from reader/commenter Ted, who said, “A Uni Watch ‘Get a Life’ Chris Christie T-shirt seems like a natural at this point.”

I hadn’t thought of that, but of course he’s right. There are lots of ways to approach this from a design standpoint, but here are two illustration-based concepts I thought of while out for my daily bike ride yesterday (always when I do my best thinking):

1. Imagine a convoy or caravan of Uni Watch vehicles crossing the George Washington Bridge. Perhaps they’re going to a Mets game. Perhaps they all have a properly rendered No. 4 on their liveries, or as part of their license plates, or whatever. In the background, behind the bridge, is an office building with lots of windows. Chris Chistie’s head sticks out of one of the windows, yelling, “GET A LIFE!” Perhaps there’s a tagline beneath the illustration, which reads, “Uni Watch: For People Who Get It™” (or maybe “Some People Will Never Get It™,” or maybe there’s no tagline at all).

2. A private Uni Watch beach party is taking place (with the attendees incorporating stirrups into their swimsuits, of course). Some of the participants are building a sand sculpture of Tom Seaver with a proper “4.” Everyone is happy. In the background, standing on the boardwalk, Chris Christie yells, “GET A LIFE!” The same tagline options as listed above.

———

I’m sure there are lots of other fun approaches that could be taken (you could simply show Christie saying, “Get a life!” with the tagline “Uni Watch: Because This Blowhard Hates Us”), and I’m open to all of them. If you’d like to propose a design for a T-shirt, sticker, poster, or whatever, send it my way. I’ll put the best designs into production and donate the profits from any sales to the American Society of Civil Engineers (which supports good infrastructure, including bridge maintenance) and Clean Ocean Action (an environmental group that works to protect NYC/NJ-area waters and beaches).

One request: It’s fine to depict Christie as a blowhard, a bully, or a control freak, and of course it’s also fine to depict him in a visually accurate manner, but please don’t go out of your way to fat-shame him. He has enough legitimately distasteful attributes, so there’s no need to stoop to that level. Thanks.

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Click to enlarge

Purp Walk update: People, I need your advice: Should I go with the fat laces or the skinny laces?

Meanwhile: Reader Barry Klassen, who lives in Denver and will be attending next Tuesday’s festivities, informs me that he works for a company that gives tours of notable Denver food spots. He’s doing a tour on Purple Amnesty Day from 1-4pm, in fact — perfect if you want to take the tour and then head to Blake Street Tavern for the Purp Walk Party (as Barry himself will be doing). You can use the checkout code BARRY for $5 off that tour, or for any of the tours on that site.

Also, get this: May 17, in addition to being Purple Amnesty Day, will also be Northwestern University Alumni Day at Wrigley Field, with attendees receiving a Cubs cap with a purple logo. And in another twist, Turner Classic Movies will be airing the 1961 movie Purple Noon on May 17! It’s like all the purple stars are aligning for Purp Walk.

Five more days.

(Big thanks to Joanna Zwiep for the note about the movie.)

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Click to enlarge

Pin update/reminder: Uni Watch pins continue to sell at the final clearance price of just $3 per pin — and even less than that if you buy more than eight of them! We’re about to sell out of June 2020 (just three remaining) and the 2021 Press Pin (two remaining), so move fast if you want one of those.

Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Indigenous Appropriation News: Susquehanna Township in Pennsylvania, which last year stopped calling its teams the Indians, may now be reconsidering that decision.

Baseball News: Player to keep an eye on: Dodgers P Ryan Pepiot, who made his big league debut yesterday, looks like he might be our next hosiery hero (from Jacob Sanders). … The Phillies are asking fans to vote on which logo should be mowed into their outfield (from @kodywiddack). … Here’s a ranking of Single-A ballparks (from Jon Vieira). … The Double-A Arkansas Travelers will honor their parent club by wearing Mariners-themed jerseys on May 28 (from Matt Snyder). … Here are four Ohio baseball fields with very strange configurations and dimensions (from Tom Konecny and Trevor Williams). … New Sunday alternate cleats for Mariners P Robbie Ray. … Going forward, the Nats will wear their CC uniforms for Saturday home games. … There are plans for a new permanent ballpark at the “Field of Dreams” site.

Football News: Dallas mayor Eric Johnson thinks the city should have a second NFL team. … Newly acquired Broncos QB Russell Wilson is apparently a fan of the team’s throwback look (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: Here’s a look at Penn State, Auburn, and Ohio State helmets through the years. … And one more from Phil: Here are the rookie uni numbers for the Panthers. … In a related item, here’s the backstory on Steelers’ and Giants’ rookie class uni numbers. … Speaking of the Giants: A few days ago we noted that Giants rookie DE Kayvon Thibodeaux will be wearing No. 5. Turns out he had to pay K Graham Gano $50,000 to give up that number, and now Gano is donating the funds to a worthy cause (thanks, Anthony). … New look and sound in the works for the Commies’ marching band (from Tom Turner).

Hockey News: Really fun ESPN piece on hockey playoff beards. Recommended (thanks, Brinke). … Robert Brashear was looking through some old boxes and came up on this cool jersey with dueling NHL and Penguins anniversary logos from the 1992-93 season.

Basketball News: The Bucks and Hawks will play a preseason game this autumn in the United Arab Emirates. … Penn State is teasing new uniforms. … Here’s a video report on how the Bucks’ equipment staff prepares for a road trip (from Mike Chamernik). … Anyone know the story behind this Pistons warm-up? Alan Tompas has never seen it before, and neither have I.

Soccer News: FIFA is ending its licensing deal with EA Sports, which means the FIFA video game will be renamed EA Sports FC and will not include the World Cup. … Bundesliga news: Two new shirts for Hertha Berlin and three new leaked shirts for Köln (all from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: The Cleveland high schools Rhodes and East Tech will wear Jesse Owens-inspired uniforms for next week’s city track and field championships (from Jason Hillyer).

• • • • •

Birthday shout-out: Hey, Nick Shea — happy birthday to you, buddy! Hope you and Delaney enjoy your special day. — Paul

More on Uni Watch
Comments (74)

    Thank you for asking people to not fat shame Christie. I hate the man but there’s no reason to do that (same with Trump). There are so many terrible things about him, being fat shouldn’t make the list.

    Also I say go with the fat laces, not because of my comment about fat shaming/my display name, but because I like the color a lot more than the skinny laces.

    A brief public service announcement: “Shaved” is not “bald.” Shaving one’s head is a choice. Thank you.

    Speaking as someone who shaves his head, sometimes it’s the only choice.

    Stallings began male-pattern-balding when he was still in college. So he’s a combination of partial baldness and shaved.

    My “hairstyle” is the same as Kevin’s (from “The Office”). If I shaved it, none of my hats would fit.

    The term is “shaved.” Keep the word “bald” out of your mouth.

    I think you should go with one of each of the shoelaces because it creates a Los Angeles Lakers-style mismatch of the shades of purple. I know one reader in particular who seems obsessed with that. And what would be more peak Purp Walk (quite literally!) than mismatched purple shoelaces?

    I was going to vote for the skinny laces, but I like this idea for that reason even better!

    Skinny laces: Better color. Thick laces: Better look with the shoes. So one of each, as pictured, is the best of all worlds.

    I like the ode to the mismatched purple. It is appropriate as we study that type of thing here. An ode for Lakers, Vikings when helmets/jersey mismatch, and even the old LA Kings back in the day when it was sometimes hard to get a purple hockey helmet for a newcomer to the team.

    link

    Agreed. I visited in the middle of a Boy Scout bicycle trip and it’s literally the only thing around worth visiting. Riding past corn fields and then suddenly being there was an awesome sensation that is probably gone now and would absolutely be unattainable with a stadium and baseball center.

    The best thing about the original site was that it was so quaint and visually quiet. Even though it’s a farm, it felt much smaller than it seemed in the movie. I didn’t go to the MLB game but I’m guessing the stadium overshadowed the movie field and farm house.

    If any city needs a second NFL Team, it’s Green Bay. Home games have been sold out for decades, with a huge waiting list. Imagine, the Green Bay Packers in the NFC and the Green Bay New Packers in the AFC.

    Wait! I smell a design a contest here. Design the perfect uniform for a second NFL team in the city of your choice. :-)

    I think all the NFL teams should relocate to Las Vegas at this point. Each casino/resort on the Strip could build a stadium. Downtown could band together for a stadium. Build a few more out in the parched desert. Would really cut down on travel costs if you think about it.

    Can you imagine any NFL team willingly stepping into the shadow of the Cowboys?. And the ‘Pokes usurped the one reason to duel against them by relocating to Tarrant County, where the locals have disdain for all things Dallas.

    “Robert Brashear was looking through some old boxes and came up on this cool jersey with dueling NHL and Penguins anniversary logos from the 1992-93 season.”

    The logos were from a year before. 1991-92 season.

    link

    The 75th NHL anniversary season when teams wore dark as the home jerseys for half a season.

    Thanks for the correction….I had simply added 1967 + 25…
    and 75 + 1927….don’t tell my son, he thinks it’s from tgeh yer he born…:)

    that was “year he was born”…I see now that I have had that jersey for 30 years!

    Something tells me Prospect Park is going to be “under construction” this afternoon…

    Having been to a handful of the Single A baseball stadiums listed in that “ranking” I couldn’t understand whatever ridiculous methodology they were using until my skimming through the article brought me to the point of it revealing it was just a popularity poll of peoples’ votes. So, no criteria.

    Right, and not only that, but some teams take the contest seriously and ask their fans to participate, while other teams could care less. So there is no criteria for the rankings, and is really just being used by that website for clicks.

    The skinny laces are significantly more tasteful and stylish, so the fat laces are a no-brainer.

    Perhaps you could make MAGIA “Make America Get It™ Again” hats. Anyway, here’s a photo of Christie wearing pajama pants (of course) and, coincidentally, #41.

    link

    T-shirt tagline suggestion:

    Uni Watch: For People Who Need To Get A Life™

    I am hoping everyone is taking the “get a life” comment in good fun and not actually taking insult from it. There are plenty of people I am friendly with who would and have said that to me with regards to uniform tangents. Be it uniforms, cars, cheese, whatever, excessive interests will prompt the majority of the population to have a “get a life” response when we make a big deal about something which seems otherwise inconsequential. And given the level of uniform intricacy being scrutinized that prompted the comment, yeah it makes sense. To me it is just a fun point where the commUNIty is shown in the mainstream for a moment.

    I have no aptitude for photoshop/graphic design, but my Christie submission would absolutely be him alone in his beach chair from when the beaches were closed during COVID, a big 41 with the INCORRECT font drawn in the sand next to him, with the caption ‘Not Everyone Gets It(R)’ underneath.

    The Double-A Arkansas Travelers will honor their parent club by wearing Mariners-themed jerseys on May 28 (from Matt Snyder).

    The parent club’s identity dovetails nicely with the “Travelers” name, particularly the compass.

    Re. interesting baseball field dimensions…does anybody know the actual dimensions of the Columbia U baseball stadium? I have finally found aerial photos but the actual distances seem tp be a secret…

    You should go with whichever laces match the closest to the other purple items you’re wearing.

    Are you sure we can’t use one of these? link

    It is a uniform blog after all.

    This doesn’t share much history but here is a closer look at the Pistons Old English D warmup: link.

    Jacob Stallings, I am 99% sure, is using the youth version of the mask. He might be because it is smaller and lighter, but he has far less protection. Look below to see Austin Hedges wearing the same mask and it covers far more of his head.

    link

    Ah, fascinating — I didn’t even realize that a smaller youth size existed (although of course it makes sense that it would). Thanks for that!

    This is exactly what I came here to post. My son is a catcher, he’s 15. Last year I noticed a large gap between the backplate and front part of his helmet, which I discovered was because he outgrew his youth size helmet. (A different brand, but same type of hockey style mask). I got him an adult size helmet, and there is no longer a gap.

    Since when could Defensive lineman wear numbers like 5? Amateurish.

    And since the perceived commies made worshnin change their name, I don’t think commies is going to take off.

    I enjoy sports uniforms and uniform discussion. But my true obsession lies elsewhere

    link

    Being told to “get a life” runs deep with my people.

    Y’all realize that Christie hasn’t been Governor Jersey since 2018, and is now no more special than the other billion talking heads that appear on cable, social media, podcasts, etc., putting out BS?

    I’m thinking this might be a big deal in the twitterverse. Just guess bc I don’t use twitter:

    My vote is for fat laces.

    And in regards to the mayor of Dallas saying Dallas needs a second NFL team, I would just like to point out that this is why many North Texas residents hate Dallas, because they don’t have one NFL team. The cowboys play in Arlington. That’s not even the same county as Dallas. Dallas had a chance to get the cowboys back back before they were building cowboys stadium, but they elected not to join the fray right wrong or indifferent.

    But the word is Jerry had an issue with the raiders possibly moving to San Antonio, I can’t see him being okay with a team 20 mi east of where the cowboys playing now.

    Jerry sure does say a lot for an owner/GM that hasn’t been to the a Conference Championship Game or the Super Bowl in 26 years…he needs to look in the mirror and fire himself.

    Hockey playoff beard is a badge of honour showing how far you’ve gone in the playoffs. The longer and bushier it gets as you travel through the playoff rounds shows you’ve put in the work. For a true playoff beard, the player should be clean-shaven and then put the razor away when the regular season ends. If a player already has a beard when playoffs start it doesn’t have the same effect.

    I like the fat laces, but you can’t go wrong Paul!

    I’m glad you’re running with the t-shirt idea. I wish I was more creative and could go full circle from concept to useful idea, but alas, I leave that to the more creative members of the commUNIty.

    So classy of William Behrends to totally accept responsibility for the 4. We all should take notice of his example.

    Agreed he owned it and did so in a very gracious manner. But honestly, where else could the fault lie? I’m just glad he was so honest and forthright in admitting the mistake, and not trying to shift blame onto anyone else. That is refreshing.

    At least with Christie out of office, there’s a fighting chance the bridge won’t be closed…

    Late comment: Given the exposed scalp of Mr. Stallings, does he get patterned sun tans/burns as a result like the spring training trucker caps? (Does the retractable roof stadium help?)

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