Baseball helmets didn't come into the Major Leagues until the 1940s. Even though catcher's protective gear was around since the 1890s, hitters, evidently were not as concerned.
On August 16, 1920, Cleveland Indian's short stop Ray Chapman was beaned in the head by Yankee pitcher Carl Mays. Chapman died twelve hours later. But even this didn't bring hard hats into baseball.
It was in 1941, that several Brooklyn Dodgers began wearing protective head gear. Pee Wee Reese and Joe Medwick had been hit in the head so Dodger's General Manager Larry McPhail made all of his players wear helmets. They were nothing more than a hat with a hard, inside liner.
During the 1950's Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Branch Rickey had the modern day batting helmet developed. They were made of hard plastic and worn over the batter's baseball cap.
It wasn't until 1971 that they were mandatory throughout baseball. Players who were in the league prior to 1971 wear still allowed to wear the plastic hat insert instead. Red Sox catcher Bob Montgomery was the last batter to wear the insert in 1979.
By the late 1960s, catchers started to wear them under their catcher's mask.
In 1983, baseball helmets evolved again. It was now mandatory for batters to wear a helmet with at least one ear flap. Players who had previously worn the flap-less version could continue to wear them. In fact, the last player to wear a flap-less helmet was Tim Raines.
These days, some players have gone to two ear flaps.
New and improved helmets appeared in 2007. Air vents were added to the top and sides of the helmet.
It's hard to imagine a day when a batter didn't wear a helmet. To me, it's like riding a motorcycle without one.
Nowadays, even the first and third base coaches are required to wear helmets.
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