What's Cup With That?

Cups.

Yep, cups.

A catcher’s cup may be one of the most important pieces of equipment he will wear.

It serves to protect a pretty valuable piece of his own equipment and nobody likes to get hit there, especially without a cup.

So what’s the big deal about a cup anyway? There are tons available that parents can purchase at local sports stores. I could name a handful of different companies who design and produce cups off the top of my head. But what makes a cup good?

I will tell you a story that could have easily been a horror story but fortunately for me it didn’t turn out as bad as it could have.

In 2008, I was playing in Low A with the Rome Braves. It was my day off from catching duties so my backup was in the game. We got two outs into the game and the backup catcher was knocked out of the game. Play at the plate. Runner decided not to slide and took him out hard. Catcher’s head slammed hard to the ground. Out cold.

A few minutes later the paramedics were on the field along with the ambulance. He was taken off on a stretcher and driven over to the local ER. Fortunately he ended up being ok. He suffered nothing more than a concussion and missed a few days because of it.

Since he was out of the game it was my turn to get in the game.

I lasted 1 out.

Before I tell you exactly what happened to me lets go back a few days.

Traditionally, when I played I wore a super hard, old school Bike cup. If you ever played baseball in the 90’s you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was just about the only cup available for a long time.

In 2008, I happened to be pretty skinny. I weight only 185 pounds. That allowed me to run pretty fast. Being the smart guy I was at 21 years old I decided I would rely on my speed that year and steal a lot of bases. Not the best idea I have ever had, and probably not the worst either.

My next idea was probably a little bit dumber than my idea to run bases. I thought if I went out and bought a special type of cup I would give myself and even better chance to steal bases. Not only was I going to be fast, but I was going to have less “cup resistance”.

If you have ever played baseball you know how crappy it can be to wear a cup. Those things usually take some time to get comfortable wearing. And they can be pretty difficult to run in as well.

So I went to none other than Dick’s (no pun intended) Sporting Goods to find myself a really awesome cup. I was looking through the abundant supply of cups they had available and set my sights in on a cup made by Under Armour. What I didn’t pay attention to was what the cup was NOT designed for.

Fastballs.

So there I leave, with my trusty, comfy cup, not designed to take a hit form a 94mph fastball. I can remember how smart I thought I was being, walking out of the store with my super aerodynamic, flexible cup that would allow me to light up the base paths. It didn’t take long for me to rethink that decision.

Lets fast forward back to the game.

Here is a quick recap of where we are…

Two outs into the game. Backup catcher is knocked out cold, in an ambulance, headed to the ER. I’m getting put into the game. I had already put in my comfy UA cup so all good there.

So with two outs in the first inning they put me into the game.

We had a nasty lefty on the mound by the name of Richard Sullivan who is now an amazing artist.

Sully threw really hard. Really. Hard. He threw 94mph but it felt like 194. The ball was super heavy. And he was a big freakin dude. Like really big. Like 6’-4” lumberjack big.

The second inning rolls around. Sully takes the mound. I’m behind the plate. Batter steps in.

I’m not sure how many pitches it took for this to happen but it did’t take long because it was the first batter.

Sully threw a 94mph fastball. The batter swung…

Foul tip!

Thump!

That 94mph fastball went straight from Sully’s hand, skimmed the batters bat, and settled into a new home, not in my mitt, straight to my cup.

Yep. Ouch. If you are a dude reading this right now, you might feel my pain.

It was some of the worst physical pain I have ever experienced.

Needless to say, I was taken off the field and checked out in the dugout. Not to get too gruesome but lets just say my white sliding shorts were not longer fully white. And no, they wren’t brown.

Now it was my turn to be taken to the hospital. I wasn’t so lucky to ride in the ambulance thought. I rode over in a normal car.

Fortunately, I was not severely injured. I have heard of this happening to other guys who experienced a full rupture of a testicle. Thankfully I just had a really bad bruise and spent 7 days on the DL.

I was sent to our facility in Orlando, FL to “rehab” my injury. Our GM at the time was Frank Wrenn. He came up to me and said, I quote, “So you’re the guy who took a ball to the balls.” You can’t make this stuff up. I lived it. Insane stuff.

I tell you this so you can learn a hard lesson without having to experience the lesson.

When you purchase a cup, do not purchase your cup solely based off of comfort. That should probably be one of the things you look for in a cup but it should probably be the least important characteristic of your cup selection.

After my incident, the Braves demanded all minor league catchers wear a steal cup the next year. They even provided us with steal cups.

I didn’t wear it; it was extremely heavy. And nobody else wore it either. But I did go back to my old school, extremely hard plastic, Bike cup and it did the job. I took a ball off of that cup in 2009 and had zero problems.

So when you choose your cup, choose protection over all other qualities. Protection needs to be your top priority.

Once you have found a cup that will be extremely protective you can start looking for the other qualities you might want like comfort, durability, etc.

Also, when choosing your cup you need to choose a piece of clothing to hold that cup in place so if fits properly.

DO NOT PUT YOUR CUP IN WITHOUT PROPER CLOTHING.

It will not do its job if you put it in without proper clothing.

What is proper clothing? A jock strap or sliders designed to slide a cup in and you need to have something tight on under your jock strap or your sliders to make sure you hold your “junk” in place.

I recommend jock strap but I know a lot of younger guys don’t like them. But, in my opinion, your health is way more important that cool points or style points.

Get the best cup you can get and get a jock strap.

The End.

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