Uni Watch: L. A. Dodgers display new 3-D see on batting helmet

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 3:28 AM

The Dodgers today unveiled new matte-finish batting helmets for their residence opener. Several other MLB teams have recently changed their helmet finish from glossy to matte, including the Dodgers' opponents today, the AZ Diamondbacks.

Uni Watch: L. A. Dodgers display new 3-D see on batting helmet

The LA Dodgers are making two changes to their batting helmets -- one of which is unprecedented in MLB history.

The Dodgers today unveiled new matte-finish batting helmets for their residence opener. Several other MLB teams have recently changed their helmet finish from glossy to matte, including the Dodgers' opponents today, the AZ Diamondbacks. But the Dodgers' new helmets have a unique feature: The team'south familiar interlocking "LA" symbol is raised from the helmet shell instead of being flat against it, creating a three-dimensional effect.

The "LA" lettering projects outward only about three millimeters from the helmet'south surface, but that'south sufficient to create a noticeable sense of depth unlike anything seen on a typical batting helmet. Of the other twenty-nine MLB teams, twenty-eight of them utilize flat decals for their helmet logos. The Chicago Cubs utilize an adhesive embroidered cloth patch that provides a greater sense of texture, but it doesn't create the same 3D effect as the Dodgers' new headwear mark.

"We wanted to go with the matte helmet, but we wanted to create it our own," said Mitch Poole, the team'south equipment manager. "So we thought we'd go with the three-dimensional look."

Poole kept the new helmets a secret until today'south residence opener. The Dodgers wore conventional glossy helmets with standard symbol decals during spring training and for their season-opening six-game road trip. Even the team'south players didn't know about the new headgear until just prior to today'south game. The new helmets will be worn for the balance of the two thousand sixteen season.

Ross Yoshida, the Dodgers' director of graphic design, said the process for creating the new helmets began latest year, when the team'south chief marketing officer, Lon Rosen, suggested that the matte finish would be a good look.

"Lon loves for us to be the first to do things, but he didn't realize that other teams had already gone with the matte," said Yoshida. "I said, 'Lon, the Diamondbacks and Pirates have already done that. But we could do something new with the logo.'"

Yoshida initially proposed an embroidered cloth symbol patch, similar to what the Cubs use. "We even slice out the symbol from a cap and pasted it onto a sample matte helmet, just to look how it looked," he said. "It was OK, but we wouldn't have been the first to do it, because of the Cubs." He said there was also some concern about the white cloth symbol getting filthy over the course of the year.

"Then I thought about football helmet nose bumpers," said Yoshida, referring to the raised logos used by an increasing no of football teams in recent years. "Nobody had ever done that in baseball. So that was the inspiration."

The football nose bumper logos are made from rubber and cast from molds. But the logos on the Dodgers' helmets are plastic and were produced on a 3D printer. They were supplied by Pro Helmet Decals, a FL vendor with wide experience in sports graphics.

The project has provided some challenges. Because the plastic logos are rigid and the helmet shells are rounded, for example, the logo'south underside had to be concave to match the curvature of the helmet, which in turn meant the logos had to be positioned very carefully on the helmets. "You do have to obtain it on just the right spot, or else it won't be flush against the surface," said Pro Helmet Decals owner David Sulecki. "But it'south not challenging to discover that spot. You can feel it."

In addition, nobody knows how sturdy the plastic logos will turn out to be as players throw their helmets around during the course of the season.

"The original map was to test them in spring training, but then we decided to create it a astonishment at the residence opener," said Yoshida. "Will they break? Will they chip? Will they fall off? We're in uncharted territory here. But hey, you've to get a risk sometimes."

For his part, Poole said, "They may fall off once in a while, but I'll have some super-glue in my pocket, just in case."

It might sound love a lot of fuss over such a tiny element, but that'south what happens when a team is doing something that'south never been done. And if it looks as excellent on the field as the Dodgers think it will, don't be surprised if other teams chase with 3D helmet logos of their own.

Paul Lukas writes about uniforms for ESPN. com. If you liked this column, you'll probably love his Uni Look Blog, plus you can chase him on Twitter and Facebook. Wish to memorise about his Uni Look Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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