Below is a simplified guide to gear for a beginner. I have chosen three criteria to pick the best gear:1. protection, considering the level of play (through junior high)
Wilson Dyna Lite Umpire Mask A3009x
The Wilson Dyna Lite face masks are made from hollow core steel and are time-tested. Several major league umpires wear Dyna Lite masks including Jim Reynolds and Brian Gorman. The A3009x comes with a soft and comfortable deerskin interior padding, and a man-made PE leather exterior for easy cleaning.
The Wilson Dyna Lite A3009x can be purchased through SoftballSavings.com for $44.95 (after a $10 discount, use this link) and $6.99 flat rate shipping.
Some regular readers may wonder why the Dyna Lite is recommended instead of the Diamond iX3 DFM-UMP, the 2010 UMPY Award Winner for face mask of the year. Recent testing has indicated that the Diamond mask, made of aircraft aluminum, is very rigid and absorbs less impact energy than other masks. The Wilson Dyna Lite is a little more protective, is priced a little lower than the Diamond, and comes with more comfortable pads. While the Diamond frame is universally beloved for its durability, light weight, and low cost; the Diamond padding is universally reviled. The padding will grab face stubble and is simply not as comfortable as other pads. Many umpires purchase the Diamond iX3 and then change the padding which increases the price substantially.
Champion Chest Protector P220/P210/P200
Champion recently changed the design of their hard shell umpire chest protector. The new protector has design flaws and cannot be recommended. However, the old Champion hard shell chest protector is terrific! The Champion weighs a very light 2 pounds, 13 ounces. It is 1.4” thick, an average thickness, so this CP does not appear overly bulky. The plate placement is well designed and this CP can be found at every level of amateur play – from little league to college.
The Champion comes in three lengths: 13” ((P220); 15” (P2120); and 17” (P200). I have the 13” model and it covers my longer torso ribcage just fine.
The Champion Hard Shell Chest protector is sold by betterbaseball.com for $35.00 (P220); $36.62 (P210); or $40.00 (P200), plus shipping. An incredible price for an under-appreciated hard shell chest protector!
Diamond Leg Guards DLG-UMPLITE150
If you can wear a 15” leg guard (measure from middle of knee to where your ankle meets your foot), the 15” Diamond Ump Lite leg guards are a great choice. Weighing a mere 13.5 ounces, these guards will protect adequately through high school. They are absolutely the most comfortable leg guards I have tested. I routinely wear these guards for high school and some college games.
The 15” Diamond DLG-UMPLITE150 can be purchased for $29.99 (plus shipping, save if you combine your order with the Champion CP above) through betterbaseball.com.
The 17” Diamond UmpLite guards have a gap at the knee, so if you need a longer guard, check out the Champro Pro Plus Leg Guards. They are a little more expensive, but are overall a terrific product and named 2010 UMPY Award winner for best leg guards.
There are a couple of deal combos for apparel that may be helpful. First, Gerry Davis (owned by Gerry Davis the MLB umpire) offers a combination package of Gerry Davis shirt, Richardson fitted cap, and Gerry Davis pants for $71.90. I recommend a 6 stitch cap that can be used on the bases or behind the plate, and a pair of charcoal gray combo pants (that can be used for base or plate work as a beginner). Of course, you should check with your local leagues concerning clothing and color restrictions before purchasing anything.
Gerry Davis also offers an umpire ball bag with indicator and brush for under $20, and save on shipping when you purchase at the same time.
By using the discount code MWUMP you can purchase a highly rated Smitty umpire shirt from Ump-Attire for $17.99, Smitty combo pants in heather or charcoal gray for less than $45.00, a Richardson 6 stitch hat for $12.00, and a bag/brush/indicator combo for $14.99.
Need a belt? Try a postal uniform store. For instance, at PostalUniform.com you can buy a 1.75” Garrison belt for under $11.50 and free shipping! This 9oz full grain leather belt comes with a nickel-plated zinc tongue buckle. The same belt can run you $18 with shipping extra at an on-line umpire retailer.