Today's material is polycarbonate lexan, in the application of baseball equipment. Baseball is what most people consider to be a non-grueling sport, which for the most part is a matter of opinion. However, inside the baseball community the people who are put through the most abuse are those who catch.

Catchers not only have to account for balls in the dirt and use their body to stop them, they are also most probable of getting into a person to person collision. In recent years this percentage has gone down drastically due to rule changes. However, the catcher still has to put their bodies on the line the most during the game.

Each part of the catcher's equipment is important to the safety and health of the person wearing it but to me the most important piece is the one that is not visible: the protective cup. Getting hit in this area is the most painful and the most likely to cause long term damage. Since protective cups have been invented there have been two major improvements: 1. Using a flexible elastomer on the outside increases comfort while not giving up any kind of functionality 2. The Nutty Buddy.

The Nutty Buddy was invented by Mark Littell, a former MLB pitcher, and is made out of polycarbonate lexan. Polycarbonate is a durable material that is lightweight yet has a high impact resistance, which is one of the reasons it is found in so many products including riot shields. One of the characteristics that makes it special is that it is able to withstand extreme plastic deformations without shattering, which is uncommon in thermoplastics.

Thanks to these recent developments in personal protection equipment, as a catcher, I can be certain that I have a stringently tested material protecting what is most important to me. (Mark Littell even took a 90 mph fastball to the groin from point blank with the Nutty Buddy on as seen here:

The properties of lexan that make it perfect for this application to baseball protective cups include: light average density of 1.21 g/cm^3, Young's Modulus 2.0-2.4 GPa, Tensile Strength of 55-75 MPa, Izod Impact Strength Test value of 600-850 J/m, and its Elongation at Break 80-150%. These and many other properties of lexan make it useful in other applications such as safety features in electronics, construction materials, data storage in the form of DVD's and Blue Ray discs, as well as security components for railroad, automotive, and aeronautical applications.


  1. Wikipedia. "Polycarbonate." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
  2. Zarda, Brett. "The Cup Stops Here." Popular Science. Popular Science, 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.


Created with images by keijj44 - "baseball catcher play at the plate" • skeeze - "baseball player catcher ball" • keijj44 - "baseball catcher collision"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.