If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, you might have wondered why Willie Harris wears a double-flapped batting helmet at the plate. Harris is a lefthanded hitter, making his helmet choice a relative oddity: Switch-hitters are usually the only batters to favor a double-flapped model, as they can protect both ears with one helmet. (The Phillies’ Shane Victorino and the Padres’ Orlando Hudson are two examples of switch-hitters who use the little league helmet, while the Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo is the only other monodexterous double-flapper I am aware of.) Harris explained his choice yesterday:
“I fouled a ball back,” said Harris. “It hit the catcher in the shin guard, came up and cut my ear.”
It was September of 2001, and Harris was a 23 year old rookie with the Orioles. “My first big league game,” he said. “I’ve worn it ever since.” Harris added that he had worn a double-flapped helmet in the minor leagues, as is the requirement — making his major league debut the first and only time he’s ever worn a single-flap helmet in his professional career.