Brendan Hornung, a star pitcher for the University of Hawaii who almost lost his life in 2014 after a skull fracture, has returned to the game and is now staying safe with an extremely strong composite plate in his new helmet.
“It’s carbon fiber, so it’s pretty sturdy, but I don’t think anybody knows that it’s in there when I’m pitching,” Hornung said.
The company responsible for the composite plate is Atlanta, Ga.-based Safer Sport Technologies (SST). SST’s head guards are made with CFRP, which makes them stiff, strong, lightweight. SST says they’re incredibly safe and “can significantly reduce the risk of severe consequences” of traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures like the one Hornung suffered in 2014.
According to SST, in baseball, skull fractures can occur at a ball exit velocity of approximately 85 feet per second or 58 miles per hour. SST puts its head guards through high-collision impact tests that provide clear results showing how composite technology lowers the force of impact.
Hornung is not the only pitcher to benefit from composite protection. During Major League Baseball’s 2016 Spring Training, around 20 pitchers tried out a new hybrid of a baseball cap and a helmet called the “Half Cap.” The Half Cap, made by Los Angeles-based company Boombang, is an aggressively-styled carbon fiber composite shell lined with an advanced energy-absorbing impact layer and a conforming foam liner. Stamford, Conn.-based Presidium USA is also attempting to enter the market for composite baseball helmets.
“You see guys get hit all of the time now. Hopefully the name [SST] gets out there and a lot more pitchers start wearing them, because I don’t want it to happen to another guy what happened to me,” Hornung says.