Batting in matte: Yanks' new helmets a hit

Reviews positive after New York debuts different road look

May 28th, 2016
"They're very cool, very different, very different for the Yankees," Alex Rodriguez said of the helmets. (Bryan Hoch)

ST. PETERSBURG -- Change tends to come slowly for the Yankees, especially with a classic on-field look that has remained largely unaltered for decades. So the debut of the team's new matte-finish helmets sparked conversation among the players, who offered positive reviews.

The Yankees broke out the new navy blue helmets for the first time in Friday's 4-1 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. According to equipment manager Rob Cucuzza, the matte look will be used for road games only, as they complement the team's gray uniforms.

"I love them," Alex Rodriguez said. "They're very cool, very different, very different for the Yankees."

Cucuzza said that he polled the players earlier this season, showing a prototype of the matte helmet alongside the traditional shiny finish, which will continue to be worn with the home pinstripes. The players overwhelmingly voted in favor of adding a road option, he said.

"I like them. It's something different," manager Joe Girardi said. "Matte finish has kind of become popular on cars, and now I guess it's popular in helmets. It's been pretty popular in some football helmets in college. We've seen a lot of that, so I like it. I don't think it's flashy, but I like it."

Several Major League teams started experimenting with matte over the past year, including the Dodgers, D-backs, Padres and Pirates. At one time, A-Rod actually created his own makeshift version by using white rosin; Rodriguez said that the new helmets weigh the same as the shiny version.

"It's a good look," Aaron Hicks said. "It seems like more and more teams are going to the matte."

It is just small enough of a change that there should be no great outcry about altering the Yankees' signature look, which has featured pinstripes on the home uniform since 1915 and a solid navy cap with the interlocking "NY" since '22.

The solid gray road uniforms have remained relatively unchanged since 1918, with "NEW YORK" across the chest in block letters, save for a four-year period beginning in '27 when "YANKEES" was used instead.

Given the team's reverence for history, they have worn alternate uniforms just twice. On April 8, 1996, the Yankees wore replicas honoring the Negro National League's Black Yankees, and on April 20, 2012, for Fenway Park's 100th anniversary, they wore polyester reproductions of their 1912 ensemble.

However, there has been some experimentation in head gear over the past few seasons, which opened the door to look at options with batting helmets. On three occasions, the Yankees have worn their New Era batting-practice caps in regular-season games (Aug. 9, 2013, and May 12 and 14, 2014).

"I'm OK with it," Girardi said. "I don't think we're doing anything really out of the ordinary."

Worth noting

Mark Teixeira (neck spasms) reported some improvement on Saturday following two cortisone injections earlier this week. Teixeira is continuing to receive treatment, and Girardi said that he hopes Teixeira will be available on Monday, when the Yankees open a three-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto.