Monday, October 25, 2010

Review of All-Star FM2000UMP Umpire Mask

All-Star has recently introduced their System Seven FM2000UMP umpire mask and Midwest Ump is fortunate enough to receive a sample for review. All-Star's advertising literature says that the FM2000UMP is specifically designed for umpires. The top bar of the cage is curved to allow more padding to come into contact with the umpire's forehead, increasing protection, comfort, and fit. This design also makes it impossible for the top bar of the cage to come into contact with the umpire during ball impacts.

The FM2000UMP I received weighs 1 pound, 3 ounces (19 ounces) with the manufacturer’s pads and harness.
The cage weighs 15 ounces, which is a little heavier than competitor's cages: the Diamond DFM-UMP in silver (12 ounces) and the ultra light Champro (10 ounces).

The All-Star FM2000UMP measures 8.5” in width, which is a little more narrow than most traditional face masks (9 inches), and an average 10” top to bottom (not including the throat guard). The eye opening is a standard 2”, but the depth of the mask is a quarter inch shallower than the Champro. The bars of the FM2000UMP are flattened on the edges, which increases the umpire’s vision.

The standard pads are “Lightweight UltraCool” (LUC) pads.
These pads are machine washable and treated with AEGIS Microbe Shield. The AEGIS Microbe Shield is an antimicrobial and is odorless, colorless, non-leaching, long-lasting and effective against fungi, bacteria and algae. It does not dissipate and retains its full antimicrobial strength for the life of the surface to which it is applied. The UltraCool fabric is a perforated breathable mesh which covers All-Star's exclusive vented energy absorbing foam. This foam was originally developed for the All-Star titanium mask to absorb ball impact forces.

Cage Design
The design of the FM2000UMP cage is different.
First, the placements of the support bars are designed to reinforce the eye opening. Second, the shape is more rounded than many cages (see comparison, right). Third, the angles were designed after careful consideration of the likely angle of a foul ball and deflect the energy of the ball. The forehead area is curved and allows more padding to remain in contact with the forehead, thereby dispersing a ball impact. Brad Jurga from All-Star tells me that the curved forehead makes it very unlikely that the top bar of the cage will come in contact with the forehead during ball impacts.

In wearing the FM2000UMP, the top pad is shaped flatter and does fit snugly against the forehead. This also makes the mask more stable since it is supported by the brim of the cap, and allows that harness to be adjusted looser without the mask flopping around.

The result of the cage design is a single bar traditional mask that is light and strong,. The FM2000UMP has already made an impact on YouTube:

The All-Star FM2000UMP umpire mask can be purchased from the following on-line retailer:

Baseball Plus Store, $44.95

Fair or Foul?
This mask is FAIR. The FM2000UMP umpire mask is just one more example that the All-Star company gets it. An excellent piece of umpire gear meets four criteria: first, the equipment must offer superior protection; second, the equipment should be comfortable; and third, the equipment should look good; and fourth, the equipment should be affordable.

The redesigned cage makes the FM2000UMP the best hollow-core steel mask on the market today. Hollow-core steel is time-tested, but traditionally has been reinforced with two bars. The single-bar design is difficult to reinforce, but All-Star's redesigned support bars create a single-bar cage that is as strong as a traditional double bar cage. The mask is also light and comfortable, looks good, and is surprisingly cheap - listing under $50!

The only reservation I have with this mask is with the pads. I am not sold on creating more contact between the pads and the forehead. This seems to promote and enhance the impact energy from the the ball to the cage to the pad to the forehead. Additionally, this placement seems to offer resistance to the mask spinning and moving during ball impacts, thereby decreasing the efficacy of dispersing the impact energy through the spinning mask. I will investigate this configuration further, but for now I need to withhold judgment.


yawetag said...

When you get more information, please let us know. I'm very interested in this mask, and the price is very affordable.

BretMan said...

Does this design mean that if you need to replace the pads, you will have to use the exact same dimension All Star pads? Will other pads fit?