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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Charles Arnold’s catcher’s mask, 1905. Canvas, leather, and metal. Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (082.00.00)

Early Catcher’s Mask

With a well-earned fear of foul tips ricocheting off his head, Harvard’s Alexander Tyng wore a converted fencer’s mask for a game in 1877, becoming the first-known player to don a catcher’s mask. Only a year later, the patented headgear appeared in Spalding’s sporting goods catalog and professional catchers began wearing masks. Modest modifications followed, such as additional padding and buckled straps. Charles Arnold, a student at Phillips Academy and Yale, used this mask from 1905 to 1914.