“Did you know that this game was then played barehanded with the same wooden bat and hardball that are used today? This caused a lot of injuries and the broken hand was the sign of a baseball player. There was no protection for the hands or other parts of the body.“And here is the story of Charlie Waite of the “New York Nine” who having suffered his third broken hand in a recent game on the field wearing a thin leather protective glove. The audience was astonished and enraged. Pillows flew and the screams from the crowd – “ If you are afraid of getting hurt – get out!” And Charlie, a great first baseman – left the field never to return to baseball. Five years passed before another man attempted to wear a glove onto a playing field.“In 1885 a well-known catcher named Charlie Bennett, who had many a floating rib sunk by a fast pitch from the pitcher, walked onto the playing field looking a bit more fat than usual. Charlie was wise to the ways of the crowd. Under his coat, he had hidden a think quilted chest protector – adopted from the fencing sport. By the third inning two of the batters on the opposing team had gotten the idea. As one of them stepped up to the plate the other tore open Charlie’s coat and he was exposed in his shame. There for all the audience to see was the chest protector. He too was laughed off the field.“There were many disfigured catchers until the year 1893 when one player named “Cuppy” (and I wonder if that name is significant?) finally devised a face protector made from a modified fencing mask. And you may recall the number of fractured skulls there have been from bean balls until the hard hat was recently developed for batters.
“Let’s move into military operations for a moment. In 1917 Colonel Douglas A. MacArthur stated to his aide – “I will not appear a coward to my men by wearing a steel helmet.” He hardly ever did. However, there was one exception. When he received a Silver Star (one of many) from General Black Jack Pershing, Pershing insisted that he wear a steel helmet, not because of the danger of the event, but only because all of the other Colonels were wearing them.“That was one of the few times that MacArthur had ever been seen in a helmet. But how about Black Jack himself? There is no record that he ever wore one!”