Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why Does Umpire Equipment Weight Matter?

Working the plate is hard. High temperatures and a scorching sun can make working the dish almost unbearable. The strain on an umpire’s body is significant, and plate gear is largely to blame. Heavy, suffocating gear can make life miserable, even hazardous.

Each year umpires at all levels go down with heat exhaustion; or worse, have heart attacks. For example:

Cincinnati, OH – 1996: MLB Umpire John McSherry, age 51 fatal heart attack on field

Oak Park, IL - 2005: Scott Marengi, age 47 fatal heart attack on field

Beaverton, OR –2008: Mark Cadonau, age 42 fatal heart attack on field

Sometimes the umpire suffers a health issue after the game and away from the field. MLB Umpire Nick Bremigan died from a heart attack in 1989 at the age of 43; and MLB Umpire Lee Weaver died from a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 51.

Wearing plate gear heats you up and makes your body work harder. Plate gear also slows you down. The heavier the plate gear, the hotter your body gets, the harder you work, and the slower you are on the field. But shedding weight from your equipment will make your job more bearable.

Sound silly? Take a look at how just a few different equipment choices can save you pounds:

Chest protector
The the All Star CPU4000, weighs 3 pounds, 11 ounces. The lightest hard shell chest protector is the Douglas which weighs 2 pounds, 9 ounces, but is hard to find. There are other lighter CPs available, including the Schutt AiR Flex and Champion P220 which both weigh 2 pounds, 13 ounces [soft shell protectors are even lighter!]

Savings: 1.125 pounds

Leg Guards
The Wilson Charcoal Leg Guards (A3417) weigh 32 ounces each. On the other hand, the DLG-LITE Featherweight Shin Guards weigh 13.5 ounces each.

Savings: 2.18 pounds

The Wilson Titanium mask with stock pads weighs 23 ounces. The Champro CM58 Magnesium Face Mask with stock pads weighs 15.5 ounces.

Savings: .47 pounds

Total Savings: 3.775 pounds

That’s like carrying an extra seven baseballs around! So when the weather starts heating up, consider wearing lighter, more breathable plate gear to make your job easier. Midwest Ump will continue to provide helpful information about plate equipment weight and breathability. In addition, make good choices like a regular exercise program including aerobic exercise, and hydrate properly.

1 comment:

Boyinr said...

The only comment that I will make is that a lot of officials would be better served by losing the 4 pounds of body weight and skip buying the lightest gear available.