Dr. Del,I recall that facemasks in the 1970's and possibly later were sold under the Cramer name. Were they actually Schutt masks marketed by Cramer, or did Cramer actually make their own mask?
Most who played school related athletics know the Cramer name but for those who don't recall, Cramer Sports Medical was perhaps the first company to gain a national profile within institutional sports as a supplier of training room aids. Founded by Frank and Chuck Cramer as the nation was coming out of World War I, they seemed to have cornered the market on supplying high school and colleges with everything from athletic tape and knee supports to their Cramer's Tuff Skin adhesive spray that allowed tape to remain on ankles and wrists. They later developed Quickick Electrolyte Replacement Drink, the first on the market. Almost every high school and collegiate football player had an encounter, good or bad, with Cramer's Red Hot Atomic Balm, the strong-smelling and extremely warming analgesic product that often would be uncomfortably placed in an unsuspecting teammate's jockstrap! Cramer's influence was so pervasive throughout the formative years of athletic training and product development that they were the founders of the National Athletic Trainer's Association in 1950. Having a tremendous national market of high school, college, and professional trainers, coaches, and players, all of whom knew and trusted the Cramer brand name, it seemed like a natural to offer the protective facemask to their client base. In a statement from Cramer, HELMET HUT was told that " In the early 70's we distributed the Schutt facemasks", thus the "Cramer facemasks" were actually manufactured by and the same as those sold by Schutt. Your perception was accurate. Cramer Sports Medical products continues to be a leader in their field.
I am a big time West Virginia fan and even though we bombed out in the bowl game this year, it was another really good season. I like to study the past WVU helmets and some from other Big East schools like Pitt (you have to know your enemy). You have great Mountaineer helmets on your site but I have a question about the 1973 helmet. I have seen it elsewhere and it shows the gold helmet having a navy blue stripe to go with the state type of decal on the sides. You don't have the stripe, how come? Thanks and keep up the good work, I like all of the things you have.
Ronnie in Parkersburg, WV
Thank you for your question and the compliments about the site. We have a few "big time West Virginia fans" at HELMET HUT, as you are, and enjoyed this past season. We are also happy that Rick Rodriguez was retained as head coach. Head Coach Bobby Bowden changed the Mountaineer helmet shell from white to the school color of Old Gold in 1973. In 1969 and 1970, dependent upon manufacturing and distribution schedules, Riddell provided the TAK-29 helmet which was often referred to as "the water helmet". This was a suspension type of helmet that had water-filled compartments in the lower rear/neck area instead of the suspension components. If one looks very carefully at photos from the early 1970's, the helmets that show rivets on the sides is either one of the suspension model helmets or a TAK-29. During the same time period, Riddell also offered the Mircofit or HA-91 and HA-92 (for larger heads) helmets. This helmet contained four elements of impact absorption. These included the one piece KRA-Lite II shell, air-cells, fluid cells, and pad inserts. The air-cells were inflatable, and were designed for inflation while the helmet was on the user's head, providing a custom fit for each player. A popular model, it was produced into the early 1980's. Air valves were present along the top center part of the helmet that were used with a small hand-held bulb pump, but because the early valve technology was not perfected, air was occasionally lost during play requiring the insertion of the hand bulb during breaks from the action. On occasion, a fluid-filled compartment would break and the player would exit the game with what appeared to be water leaking from the inside of the helmet and onto his head and face. Riddell provided a one-inch wide clear strip of protective tape that went over the center part of the helmet, forming a protective shield for the air valves. Depending upon the way the available light struck the center clear tape, it often appeared as if the helmet had a darker center stripe than the surrounding shell color it sat upon. As many colleges, including West Virginia used this helmet in 1973, perhaps among other helmet models, it appeared in some photos and even in game films that some of the helmets had a one-inch contrasting color center stripe. As WVU's contrasting stripe would have been navy blue, there are those who are interested in helmet history that believe that this navy blue stripe was present in 1973 but rigorous study of all of the 1973 season's game films and discussion with staff at West Virginia clearly indicates that the shell was Old Gold and had no center stripe during the time period from 1973 through 1978. If one looks at photos of other schools, some also appear to have a darker center stripe and USC immediately comes to mind yet there is no validation that the Trojans ever wore a darker maroon stripe on any of their early 1970's helmets. I hope this answers your question and of course, the 1973 through 1978 model of the Old Gold Mountaineer helmet seen on the College area of HELMET HUT is both accurate and beautiful, especially to our Mountaineer supporters at the factory.
For what its worth, when I was in junior high school the high school that I would eventually attend used Bell motorcycle helmets for the football team's helmets. I don't know if this lasted more than one season but I remember how odd it looked. The ear holes were barely half the size of the standard ear hole of a typical football helmet. This "experiment" was probably done to find safer gear for our city's school district teams. However, I have no idea whether any of the other four high schools were also chosen to try Bell helmets. This all happened during the early 1970's in Lubbock, Texas.
Thank you for your interesting question. A bit of history is in order. In 1975 Riddell was sold to Wynn's International Inc., a California-based conglomerate that was and is best known for their automotive and engine protection products. At the time, Wynn's also owned Bell Helmets. Wishing to expand their influence within the football and sports recreation market, Riddell, under the Wynn's ownership, offered a number of new products that included training shoes for jogging and general recreation, an expanded line of football shoes, footwear for softball and soccer, a new vinyl-cleat football shoe for the youth market, and a line of football face masks. A year or so after this expansion of available product, Riddell offered warm-up suits and tee shirts. By 1979, Riddell had dropped out of the footwear market and Wynn's then sold both Riddell and their Bell Helmets Inc. subsidiaries. While under Wynn's ownership, a school district, team, or individual could purchase a Riddell football helmet, or they could purchase a Bell football helmet. The Bell Top Tec model "was made along the same lines as a motor sports helmet", containing an EPS liner but it had the appearance that was very similar to a motorcycle helmet. There was also a Bell produced football helmet called the Cougar and it also had an EPS liner. The Riddell model and name was more respected and recognized and the "experiment" with Bell-produced and named football helmets was short-lived. Interestingly, on August 12, 2004 an announcement was made that Fenway Partners, Inc., a private equity firm, purchased Bell Sports Corporation and merged it with Riddell, a company they already owned, under their banner of Easton Bell Sports, thus, as they were in the past, Riddell and Bell are owned by the same corporate entity.