Rawlings Coolflo Batting Helmets: Dangerously Uncool or Stylishly Safe?

Karen RossContributor IAugust 18, 2009

Editing is usually my game, but here's my minor league debut at opinion writing. 

A few nights ago, I watched Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler get beaned by a 91 mph pitch. His helmet protected his noggin from what could have been a fatal blow. I am grateful, but it got me thinking.

I have heard some recent talk about a newer, safer helmet that Rawlings plans on introducing to the major leaguers. It's called the Rawlings Coolflo S100. But that’s not all I’ve heard.

Rumor, and the NY Times, has it that many MLB players think the new helmet is going to crimp their style. Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said of the aesthetically unpleasing helmet (which really, isn’t that different looking), “We are going to look like clowns out there.”  

Strike up the violins. Anybody feel sorry yet? Nope? Good—hold that thought.

Dear Vain Batter,


Here are four reasons why you should consider wearing the Rawlings Coolflo S100 Batting Helmet.


1. Be an example. The safer helmets are selling like hotcakes with Little Leaguers who dream of one day being just like you. Wal-Mart is even selling them. Every kid on the local lumber yard sponsored tee-ball team would do anything to wear the same gear as you. You know that, because you were once that kid. By wearing a more protective helmet, you can tell kids in every sandlot ballpark in America that safety comes before coolness.

2. It's not just you. Pro-athletes of several sports have been forced to convert to safer equipment. I take that back. Not forced—more like, persuaded by situation, in an, "Oh, NOW we get it, hand over the safe stuff!" way. Nascar's HANS device, after the death of Dale Earnhardt, is a great example. Lest we forget NHL’s ever-evolving  goalie mask. It all started with Jacques Plante taking a wayward backhand shot to the face. With several nasty cuts on his mug, he refused to return to the game unless he was allowed to wear a mask. Smart guy.


Are you taking notes? You, Vain Batter, could be the Jacques Plante of baseball. The good news is, your upgraded safety equipment doesn’t look like something Hannibal Lecter might sport. It actually looks quite similar to the one you already wear.


3. It might save your life. Come on now...I feel like I had this conversation with my mother when I was five years old. I didn't want to wear helmets, or knee pads, or any other "geeky" form of protective athletic gear either. Granted, all of my helmets came with holographic stickers to ease the humiliation of looking like a goofus. Vain Batter, please don't make me go that far. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Will stickers do the trick?


4. This is not about tradition. Some of you are playing the "tradition" card as your excuse for not wearing a safer helmet. You’re right, it doesn’t look exactly like one you’ve worn your entire career. I'm a girl. I know a thing or two about vanity.  But you’re a Major League Baseball player. (One of these things is not like the other). Baseball is America’s pastime, and we should indeed foster its traditions and customs.


But hey, if you’re going to play that card, can I make one request? Or maybe a deal? Vain Batter, if you want to be traditional, could you please stop wearing the full-length baseball pants? Your socks should be showing, and they should go all the way up to your knee. Every time I see a major leaguer wearing the traditional knee-length pants, I get the nostalgic baseball warm fuzzies. The Cooperstown, cotton candy and peanuts, seventh inning stretch, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” kind.


 I digress.

There’s a lesson to be learned here.

If you want to defend your dome, you better put vanity aside and protect that pretty little head. We’d like to see you play next season.

Yours Truly,

Karen Ross