Yankee’s player Danny Farquar returns to baseball after a life-threatening brain hemorrhage

Technology |  2 min. read

Last April, White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar came into a game against the Astros in the sixth inning.  He faced four batters, got the last two outs of the inning, and came into the dugout for the home half of the sixth.

And then.  And then, he collapsed – a brain hemorrhage.  Cause?  A ruptured aneurysm.

This spring, he’s back in the dugout (a Yankee now), and out on the mound.

But less than a year after the surgery that saved his life, he’s not going out there unprotected.  Farquhar’s got a new look:

(Photo from Unequal Technologies)

That might look like a slightly goofy baseball cap – but in fact, that’s an ARMORED chapeau he’s sporting:  6.6 ounces of a flexible elastomer coated aramid insert, with a polycarbonate exterior flap.  Unequal Technologies makes it (using materials made from basic petrochemicals like propylene, xylene and benzene).

So, how does it work?

After looking at a series of patents, we learned that the coating is what makes this helmet so special.  A material known as “shear thickening fluid,” which defies fundamental physics, is the secret to making this advanced ballistic material.  As soon as a ball hits the coated aramid fibers, the force is immediately dissipated throughout the helmet.  It still doesn’t feel great, but it’s a lot safer than having all the force of the ball on just one spot.  And, while the patent doesn’t specify the type of fluid (and we respect Unequal’s intellectual property), we do know that polyglycols from ethylene or propylene and either nanoscale silica or carbon fibers are used to make the “special sauce.”  Oh, and those carbon fibers come from PAN fiber, which also uses propylene as a building block.

Unequal CEO Rob Vito described it this way to ESPN:  “’The Yankees contacted us to design something to meet with the approval of his neurologist … What we made protects his temple and the skull area where he had surgery.”

Vito said their insert is a Kevlar® composite, with an outer polycarbonate flap (like a batting helmet) – which pops right into, or out of, your baseball cap.

Farquhar gave the New York Post a slightly more informal description of it:  “looks like a hat, two sizes big with like a skully on the inside that has Kevlar and foam.”  And yeah, we’ll go with that.

For any pitcher, getting hit is risky.  But after what Danny Farquhar went through, protection from a batted ball could well save his life.

Farquhar broke into the majors back in 2011, and he figures he’s got some more years on the mound ahead of him.  He’s also got another protective measure in mind, along with the hat: “I’m also gonna have to increase my strikeout rate so they don’t hit the ball as much.”

Good luck out there!