Hey Blue: Why must the catcher wear a dangling throat protector?

By Bob Downey, Hanover LL UIC 2014

Little League Rule 1.17 states that catchers must have a “dangling” style throat protector properly attached to the mask of the catcher’s helmet.

This is a mandatory safety requirement because a ball or a bat could come up and strike a catcher in the throat area and we want to prevent injury by using the guard. This rule MUST be strictly enforced at all times. There is NO reason or excuse for not having a properly attached “dangling” throat protector on all catcher’s helmets/mask. The children’s safety MUST always be foremost in what we do.

The “dangling” style throat protector is required on any and all types of catchers’ masks in all divisions of Little League Baseball and Softball. Even the extended frame and hockey styles helmet/masks need it because without the “dangling” throat protector, when a catcher tilts his/her head upward, the frame goes with it and exposes the throat area.

The “dangling” throat protector should be attached so that when the catcher looks up or his/her head is tilted upward that the throat protector will be able to remain down so that the catcher’s throat area has some protection. The throat protector should swing freely and smoothly under the mask when tapped with a finger while holding the catcher’s mask/helmet in the hand.

It should be securely attached so that the gap between the lowest bar or frame on the mask and the top of the throat protector is between one-fourth of an inch to no more than three-fourths of an inch.  The idea is that we do not want a ball or part of a bat to be able to pass through the gap. (bat handles are under an inch in diameter)

Depending on how the guard is attached (straps with snaps or rawhide strips or show laces) it does not matter where the point of attachment is.  It only matters that it dangles freely, does not exceed the gap limit mentioned above and protects the throat area.

I do not recommend using electrical wire bundlers as a means of attaching.  For one, if they are over tightened, the guard can no longer dangle freely.  Second, without trimming of the excess, an eye poking hazard exists.  Third, with trimming of the excess, the stub can be sharp and pose a hand laceration (cut) hazard.  Fourth, they become brittle over time and break at the worst time (usually during the game).

As always, if you have any questions, let me know.