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Why Does the Catcher’s Throat Protector Have to Dangle?

This photo depicts the proper wear of the “dangling” throat protector, as required in all levels of Little League Baseball and Softball. Notice the catcher is wearing a mask that includes the wire extension. If the catcher in the photo were to lift his head up, the wire extension would move up with the mask, exposing the throat – if not for the “dangling” throat protector, which would remain in a down position.

By Andy Konyar
Little League International Umpire-in-Chief

It appears that over the course of this past season that there has been a lot of confusion over Rule 1.17.

The section I am referring to is the safety requirement that all catchers MUST have a "dangling" type throat protector attached to the mask of the catcher's helmet. We have observed catcher's helmets without any type of "dangling" throat protector, as well as throat protectors secured so tightly to the lower frame bar that they cannot move or "dangle" to protect the catcher's throat. We have observed them secured so that the throat protector is sticking straight out at a 90-degree angle, providing no protection for the catcher's throat area.

All of these are totally unacceptable.

The "dangling" throat protector should be properly and securely 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. A ball (from a foul or from a pitch in the dirt) or even a bat could possibly come up under the catcher's helmet and cause a severe injury.

To be properly attached, the “dangling” type throat protector should be securely attached from one-fourth of an inch to no more than three-fourths of an inch below the lowest bar or frame of the catchers mask. 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.

The "dangling" style throat protector is required on any and all types of catchers’ helmets/masks in all divisions of Little League Baseball and Softball. So whether you have the standard frame, the extended frame, the hockey style, etc., the "dangling" throat protector is required.

Yes, even on the extended frame masks – because when a catcher tilts his/her head upward, the frame goes with it – exposing the throat. That is, unless there is a properly positioned “dangling” throat protector in place.

This is a mandatory safety requirement and MUST be strictly enforced at all times by managers, coaches, league officials and umpires. There is NO reason or excuse, (and we have heard them all) for not having a properly attached "dangling" throat protector on all catcher's helmets/mask. The children's safety and well being MUST always be foremost in all that we do in Little League.

It is not worth the risk.

So, PLEASE, help us to make sure that every catcher's helmet/mask in your league’s equipment (whether league-purchased or parent-purchased) has a properly attached "dangling" style throat protector to protect the children from any injury or harm.

A note for the umpires out there: It is not a requirement for the plate umpire to wear a "dangling" throat protector, but it is very strongly recommended that they do.