MLB Pitchers Noesi, Rogers Using Kevlar Cap Inserts

There might finally be a protective baseball cap that doesn’t look ridiculously goofy.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported yesterday that Chicago White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi and Esmil Rogers of the New York Yankees are wearing inserts under their hats made partially of Kevlar, the material used within the military and law enforcement for bullet-proof vests. The three-milimeter thin pad combines an elastomer with Kevlar to absorb, disperse and dissipate energy to reduce the extent of injury upon impact, which in most cases is a line drive off a pitcher’s dome. Unequal Technologies, which developed this product, aptly named the insert “Dome”.

This is just silly to look at (Courtesy of Getty Images)

An elastomer is a rubbery material made of long chain-like molecules (polymers) that can return to their original shape after extending.

I watched Rogers pitch in relief during that Red Sox/Yankees marathon game Friday night and never noticed anything wonky about his hat. So either he wasn’t wearing the insert during that appearance, or it really looks a whole lot better than the hat Alex Torres wore last year.

It’s worth noting that while not MLB approved, pitchers are allowed to wear protective gear of their choice as long as it doesn’t offer any interference with play or MLB licensing agreements.

Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal Technologies, told ESPN that the padding is 5 1/2 ounces. He said he’s done his own independent testing and will seek MLB approval. But he won’t make any claims about protecting against certain speeds off the bat. Just that it’ll protect pitchers against line drives.

Jen Lada, a reporter for Comcast Sports Net Chicago, highlighted the Dome prior to the White Sox home opener on Friday.

Unequal Technologies also sells the Gyro for football helmets, which can be trimmed to customize¬†fits. It’s approved by the National Federation of High School Associations and is being piloted in Pop Warner football programs.

The Dome is available for purchase for $59.95.

(Image via Unequal Technologies)

Seth loves baseball and anything with Sriracha in it. Follow him on Twitter @sethkeichline.

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7 years ago

But what if he shot you in the face?

7 years ago

I’m not sure I understand the value of Kevlar here, beyond marketing. Kevlar is used in bullet proof vests to prevent penetration: rather than going into (or through) the body, the bullet is stopped at the surface, turning some of its kinetic energy into deformation of the bullet itself — while delivering the rest to the body, which is why anybody who survives a shot in a bulletproof vest has a serious bruise to show for it.

But the issue with baseballs is entirely the energy being delivered to the head; we don’t worry about the ball penetrating the skull, we worry about the acceleration applied to the skull by the ball (and, more to the point, the forces on the brain inside, which sloshes around and hits the skull). So what is needed is not the Kevlar surface of a bulletproof vest, but the padding behind it. Which is presumably what the elastomer is there for, and it will do that job whether there is Kevlar there or not. And that’s what leads me to believe the Kevlar is mostly marketing; likely any plastic substrate would hold the elastomer together just as well, but then they couldn’t make references to “bullet-proof vests.”