Big League Stew - MLB

ANAHEIM, Calif. — If you thought those oversized helmets that several All-Stars sported on Tuesday night looked strange, but also a bit familiar, there's a good reason why.

The Rawlings lids were a redesigned version of the S100 helmet that New York Mets star David Wright(notes) wore last season in the wake of a concussion from a Matt Cain(notes) fastball. 

But instead of Wright being the lone high-profile star to don the dome-looking lids — making him the sole target of Great Gazoo jokes from fans and fellow players — he was only but one in a group of All-Stars who gave the helmet a tryout in the NL's 3-1 victory.

Wright and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard(notes) said the helmets — which contain football helmet-like padding inside and are intended to decrease the risk of head injuries — were the only shells waiting for them in their dugout cubby holes.

But a clubhouse manager said that players were given a choice between their regular helmets and the redesigned S100s, which were made to be less bulky than the editions that many players complained about when they were introduced in 2009.

Andre Ethier(notes) of the Los Angeles Dodgers (above, left) said that peer pressure led to so many players wearing them on such a big stage at Angel Stadium. 

"Everyone went down the line. People were saying 'If you wear it, I'll wear it' and when it came down the line, I decided to wear it."

And how did it go? 

"It went all right. It's something you have to get used to. It's like switching your batting gloves or your bat. The feeling is a bit different."

Other players who wore the helmet Tuesday night included Albert Pujols(notes), Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday(notes), Joe Mauer(notes), David Ortiz(notes), Nick Swisher(notes) and Torii Hunter(notes).

Notable exceptions included Derek Jeter(notes) and All-Star MVP Brian McCann(notes).  

[Photos: See images from the 81st All-Star Game]

All minor league players have been required to wear the helmets for the 2010 season, but they are not mandatory for big leaguers. Baseball would like more players to adopt them in the name of safety, but none of the players I heard from would fully commit to wearing one for the rest of the season.

Said Ryan Howard: 

"It was kind of tight, a little heavy. It fit real snug. But it's just what was out there. I went with it."

Said David Wright, who briefly wore the helmet in 2009 before switching back.  

"I guess [the new edition] felt a little more comfortable. Like I said, if it's more for safety, I'll do it."  

As I said last season, the helmet would be slow to be accepted because no player wants to be the one who stands out from the rest of the clubhouse. But the increased participation on Tuesday night is a good sign that it won't seem that strange or different in the future.

In fact, we might not even bat an eye next year when we see every All-Star wearing one.

Follow 'Duk's All-Star adventure on Twitter @bigleaguestew or on Facebook.

 

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