Cliff Floyd set to launch protective cap liner for youth, MLB players
Dragons' Den to feature Ball Cap Liner on Jan. 20
The at-bat, one of the 5,319 in former major leaguer Cliff Floyd's 17-year career, still makes him cringe.
While playing for the Florida Marlins in 2000, Floyd made contact on a pitch from Colorado closer Jose Jimenez late in a game at Coors Field in Denver, a line drive earmarked for centre-field.
"I hit an absolute scud missile right at his [head] and by the grace of God he got his glove up and caught that ball," Floyd recalled over the phone from Florida. "Thank God he caught it. It damn near killed him."
The camera angle shown on the Rockies broadcast of Jimenez making the catch made the incident even more terrifying for Floyd, now an analyst for MLB Network and SportsNet New York.
For Floyd, the at-bat, coupled with the frequency of major league pitchers being hit by line drives — four last season and no fewer than eight since the start of the 2013 campaign — triggered the need for better head protection at all levels of baseball.
The former Montreal Expos outfielder/first baseman partnered with Pauze Innovations, a product development company in Aurora, Ont., to design the Ball Cap Liner, billed as the "most comfortable and advanced protective liner on the market."
The first shipment of 4,000 is scheduled to arrive from China at the end of January following the Jan. 20 airing of Adam Pauze's business pitch on the CBC show Dragons' Den.
In January 2014, Major League Baseball approved the isoBLOX protective cap for pitchers, but they haven't been popular, with Atlanta Braves reliever Alex Torres the only player to have bought in. The left-hander debuted the cap, which features a seven-ounce, two-inch thick protective band wrapped from ear to ear, on June 21, 2014 but only wore it a couple of times, said Pauze.
Floyd understood the look of any protective wear was important, so he, as the inventor of Ball Cap Liner, insisted it be worn underneath a ball cap, even if it meant MLB wouldn't endorse the product.
Patrick Houlihan, MLB senior counsel for labour relations, has said the threshold for approval is a cap that provides protection against line drives at 83 miles per hour. The BCL tested at 68 miles per hour but is hidden as much as possible, an important selling point in Floyd's conversations with major leaguers.
Longevity in life is more important for me with this product. ... You need your brain to be successful in life.- Ex-MLB player Cliff Floyd on his impending launch of a protective ball cap liner
While the target market for the Ball Cap Liner is ages 6-14, it can be worn by players of any age and was designed for pitchers, position players and coaches, who are now mandated across much of the U.S. to wear helmets while standing at first and third base.
Floyd's son Tobias, along with many of his teammates playing 11-year-old youth travel baseball in Florida, wore the Ball Cap Liner last season.
"The kids are 100 per cent behind wearing them because they forget they're on their head," he said, "but the parents absolutely love them."
Floyd plans to visit all 30 major league spring training sites in February and March in hopes of getting the professionals to understand the need to wear some protective head gear.
"Longevity in life is more important for me with this product," said Floyd, a World Series champion in 2007 with Florida. "We're starting to see more pitchers consistently getting hit in the head by line drives and you need your brain to be successful in life."
Pauze said the Ball Cap Liner, weighing only 4.3 ounces and the only one of its kind on the market with temple protection, will absorb 70 per cent of the brunt of a ball hit at 70 miles per hour.
"It's light and safe," said the president of Pauze Innovations. "We believe it will make a younger player better because the added protection gives them confidence that they won't get hurt if a ground ball makes frontal impact."
The Ball Cap Liner will be available to the general public on Feb. 1 at a cost of $74.95 (small) and $79.95 (large) in Canada. They will be available at Dick Sporting Goods in the U.S. for $54.95 US (small) and $59.95 US (large).