'78 Parker

During the 1978 season, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Dave Parker fractured his jaw and cheekbone in a home plate collision.

The injury forced him out for two weeks. When he finally returned to action, he stepped up to pinch hit in an extra inning game, with a hockey goalie mask as protection.

It made for amazing newspaper clippings like this one.

After using the mask for one game, Parker found that it obstructed him from seeing certain pitches. So he switched to a football style helmet instead.

Some of the other players were not too please with what they considered to be a disadvantage.

Joe Morgan recalls a time they faced Parker with his mask on: "When we played them and he got on base, I made a point of telling the umpires that I didn’t want him wearing that mask sliding into second base, because Dave always came in very hard. I was never afraid of that, but if he hit me with that helmet, I thought it could hurt me. I told ‘em that if I got hurt, I was gonna sue ‘em all. I’d already had my knees hurt in a clean play, and I didn’t want to get hurt by some makeshift thing."

None of this mattered much to Parker, who would win the Most Valuable Player award that year.

The mask was retired early in the 1979 season.

This post was inspired by Uni Watch.

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    He only played on Fridays that fell between the 12th and the 14th of the month.
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