On this day, February 12th in 1878, Frederick W. Thayer, captain of the Harvard Baseball team patented his “catcher’s mask”. Before then, catchers didn’t wear any equipment and Thayer needed to find a way to protect their catcher, James Tyng’s face and head from life-long injuries from foul tips. Based on a fencing mask, Thayer had a tinsmith in Cambridge create the first mask for Tyng. Years later, all three thought they should receive credit for the invention, but just as the mask became popular only Thayer filed the patent. After attending Harvard, Thayer later became an attorney and successfully sued A.G. Spalding and Brothers for patent infringement, forcing them to pay him royalties.
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