Dear Dr. Del Rye,
I like all of the helmets on the site mainly because I am new to all of this. I played high school ball, like college and the pros, but really never took the time to look at helmets, uniforms, etc. until a friend put me on to your Helmet Hut web site. Its great. I like Notre Dame and know that Paul Hornung wore a leather helmet or what looked like a leather helmet after almost everyone else didn’t. Your site explained the differences between different helmet types but could you give me information about the Notre Dame helmets from those years? Thanks.
Thank you for the compliments and yes, HELMET HUT has many features that could enhance your general helmet knowledge. It seems as if you have probably already found and read through the “Build Your Own Helmet” area [ https://www.gridironmemories.com/shop/customdesign.asp ] and specifically, the various models of the Riddell suspension helmets. You are absolutely correct in your observation, Notre Dame was rather late in giving up its MacGregor leather helmets while the rest of the college football world switched to plastic. Through the early 1950’s, Notre Dame sported a beautiful leather helmet as seen on Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner in 1953.
The helmet that Lattner and the other Golden Domers sported was little changed, other than the addition of a single bar face mask on most, during Paul Hornung’s senior season of 1956. Of course, like Lattner, Hornung too was the recipient of the Heisman Trophy.
In 1957, Notre Dame still failed to take the plunge and change over to the plastic helmets. While there were a scattered few programs and certainly individual players at a number of schools who continued to wear leather helmets, even while all of their teammates wore the more modern headgear, Notre Dame did not change.