Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review of the Wilson Titanium Umpire Mask

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a Wilson WTA3009BLTI Titanium Umpire Mask offered for a ridiculously low price (O.K., I have to brag: $49.95!!!). I had previously inspected this titanium mask, but I have never owned one. So, thanks to Grandpa Visa I bought myself an early Christmas present and now I can share this off-season product review with you.

This Wilson Titanium Mask is a "standard view" mask and not a "low-profile" design. That said, the distance from the frame eye-opening to the bottom of the frame is only 3.75", which is less than most traditional design masks. The distance across the frame is 8.5", which is an average width (8.5"-9" is considered average).

The frame bars measure 5mm, which is 1mm thinner than popular masks by Champro, All-Star, and other Wilson frames. The frame bars are the same width as the Diamond DFM-iX3 UMP, which flattens its bars for improved visibility.

The Wilson Titanium weighs 23 ounces with pads and harness (no throat guard). That is 6.5 ounces heavier than the Champro Magnesium with WTA3009x pads and harness (CM58 was the 2009 UMPY award winner for best traditional mask and is the lightest mask on the market), and 3.5 ounces heavier than a Diamond DFM-iX3 UMP with WTA3009x pads and harness (the DFM-iX3 was the 2010 UMPY award winner for best traditional mask). 23 ounces is a very average weight for a titanium mask.

The standard pads have a soft doeskin interior and a tough, man-made pu leather exterior. The pads feature the MLB logo (not an attractive feature to most amateur umpires). Wilson also places an MLB logo on the harness. These pads are softer than the WTA3009x pads, and a darker shade of tan.

Cage Design
The cage of the Wilson WTA3009 is made of titanium, a metal known for its high strength to weight ratio (typically better than magnesium, aluminum, and steel). Titanium is also corrosion-resistant.

The Titanium does not have a cap guard to protect your head from a foul ball. Sure, if you are executing perfect plate mechanics a cap guard is superfluous. You will never need it. However, even the best umpires can get hit through improper mechanics or a flinch:


Where to Buy
Unfortunately the ridiculous price I paid is no longer available. Most on-line retailers offer the Wilson WTA3009BLTI Titanium Umpire Mask for sale at a price above $200. However, there are a few that price it cheaper:

Ump-Attire sells the Wilson Titanium Umpire Mask with Black Padding (#A3009T-BK) for $198.99 or with dual tone pads for the same $198.99

Epic Sports offers it for $182.69

CAT Sports offers the Wilson WTA3009BLTI for $189.95

Fair or Foul?
The Wilson WTA3009BLTI Titanium Umpire Mask is a good mask - good like when your incredibly hot girlfriend serves you soup from a can, and then asks how you like it. "It's good" is the appropriate response. Not great, not bad, just "good." The Wilson Titanium's heavier weight, flatter design, lack of cap guard, and expensive price tag would be justified if the mask was indestructible. The truth is that it's not. This mask will dent with a hard blow, just like any other mask (see the several posts on the umpire forums, including this poster claiming to have dented two titanium masks). While I am unwilling to rate this mask "foul," it is not a resounding "fair" either.


Anonymous said...

just want to know...do u guys have shares in ump attire..u guys have ur nose up his ass..how come u dont review honigs products especially their K1 chest protector...it is that good..i got rid of ump west vest in favor of the honigs one...also honigs prices are comparable if not better than ump attire..also honigs service is second to none

Pete Reiser said...

Like many companies, Honig's has produced good products (e.g. the Poly Wool Umpire Pants, 2010 winner of Midwest Ump Product of the Year), and not-so-good products (e.g. recent Honig's shirts made in Pakistan).

Honig's has consistently declined to participate in Midwest Ump product reviews. Consequently, testing the K1 and other Honig's protective equipment is on an "ad hoc" basis as extra funds or opportunities present themselves.