It is rare to find a product in the umpiring world that is so revolutionary and superior that it makes other similar products simply obsolete. The introduction of lightweight alloy masks and hard shell protectors are two such improvements that made umpiring a safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable activity.
I believe the Nutty Buddy protective cup is an improvement that can be classified in this “revolutionary” group. The good people at Nutty Buddy, Inc. were kind enough to provide a Nutty buddy "Mongo" for my testing and review (special thanks to Lina Rott). I was able to test it out during two January indoor scrimmages at a midwest Division I college.
The first thing you notice is that it is not shaped like a traditional protective cup which are like narrow triangles. The Nutty Buddy claims to be “anatomically correct.” I claim that it is very comfortable to wear. In fact, I don’t think I adjusted the cup once. It fits snugly and comfortably in the right areas.The shape of the Nutty Buddy is wider and more “accommodating” in the middle of the cup. Most protective cups taper down excessively just were you need protection the most.
The Nutty Buddy is worn with a mid-thigh brief or compression shorts underneath and a normal jock over the top of the briefs or shorts. The Nutty Buddy is placed between the brief and jock so it can adjust or "float" with the movement of your body.
A word of caution: follow the instructions for proper wear. In the first game I forgot my jock and wore the Nutty Buddy between my compression shorts and underwear. It was uncomfortable and tended to slide down making the cup protrude awkwardly. In the second game I wore the Nutty Buddy as recommended and it was incredibly comfortable – more comfortable than any other protective cup I have worn.
The Nutty Buddy is made of a very durable plastic. Unfortunately (I suppose unfortunate for purposes of this article) the division one pitchers and catchers did an excellent job protecting the umpire during my test of this product – consequently no groin shots. To test the Nutty Buddy’s protective aspects I asked my wife to hit the Nutty Buddy with a baseball bat. Really. No joke. After a few progressively more violent swings I was satisfied with the test, but for some reason my wife wanted to continue the experiment. . . I should probably take her to dinner soon. . .
Anyhow, the Nutty Buddy absorbed the groin shots and transferred very little of the impact to my body. Because of the superior “accommodating” design the Nutty Buddy offers more complete protection than a traditional cup. If you want to see Mark Littell test the Nutty Buddy there are plenty of videos on YouTube like here and here.
Frankly, even if it was only as good as a traditional design cup, I would recommend the Nutty Buddy for its superior comfort. Craig Coppola of Nutty Buddy, Inc. tells me that a number of professional (and MLB) umpires are wearing the Nutty Buddy and give positive feedback. The cost is $19.95 plus shipping for the Nutty Buddy, and their website also sells compression shorts and jocks called "The Package."
The Nutty Buddy is definitely a Five Indicator product and recommended equipment for umpires at all levels.***UPDATE***