Let’s rewind back to Aug. 15, 2009. It was a warm, sunny afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets and Giants were in the midst of a pitcher's duel between two of the best starters in the game - namely Johan Santana and Matt Cain.
All was going as planned, and both pitchers were in the midst of a shut out until the fourth inning. It was then that disaster struck. After throwing three consecutive fastballs to the biggest bat in the Mets lineup (David Wright), Cain let one get away.
That's when it happened, a 95 mph fastball collided with the helmet of Wright. Had it not been for the helmet, Wright could have been killed. Luckily, the injury was not life-threatening and Wright was able to leave the game under his own power.
Still, Wright did not walk away unscathed, he suffered a concussion and was sidelined for nearly two weeks. The full extent of his injury will not be known until he can go out onto the field and show that he can produce the same way he could prior to the injury.
Tonight at Coors Field, Wright is scheduled to make his return to the Mets lineup, but he’ll be using some different equipment. Wright will be one of the first players in the Major Leagues to wear the Rawlings S100 batting helmet.
Mets fans may have already caught a glimpse of this new helmet if they tuned into Fox's Saturday telecast of the Mets and Cubs game, in which Ryan Dempster wore Rawlings' newest creation.
Now to the average baseball fan, this doesn’t mean a whole lot. However, this is a monumental step for the safety of baseball players.
The helmets, which are significantly bigger and bulkier feature much more padding and are thicker than their predecessor, the Rawlings Cool-Flo helmet, which was introduced in 2006.
The helmet is also being marketed as being able to withstand a 100 mph pitch, while still providing adequate protection to the player.
Granted, even if he had been wearing the new helmet, Wright still would have been injured, but that injury might not have been as severe as it was with the limited protection of the current helmet.
Also of note is that Major League Baseball is mandating the use of the S100 helmets for every minor league player starting next year.
This new piece of equipment is certainly a step in the right direction in preventing what have proved many times to be career-changing injuries.