According to the baseball library site the year was 1971.
rule 1.16 (a) all players shall use some type of protective helmet while at bat. (b) all players in National Association Leagues shall wear a double ear-flap helmet while at bat. (c) All player entering the Major LEAGUES commencing with the 1983 championship season and every succeeding season thereafter must wear a single ear-flap helmet (or at the player's option a double ear-flap helmet), except those players who were in the Major League during the 1982 season, and who, as recorded in that season, object to wearing a single ear-flap helmet. (d) All catchers shall weara catchers protective helmet, while fielding their positions. (e) All bat/ball boys or girls shall wear a protective helmet while performing their duties.
I believe the first was Roger Bresnahan, in 1907 or so. As a catcher, he had previously developed shin guards, and after a beaning, he similarly developed the batting helmet. Only in 1941, though, did it catch on at all, and then only into the '50s did it become somewhat common. Use was mandated only in the early-70s, with the earflap becoming mandatory for new players in 1983.
In August 1979, then president of the National Hockey League (NHL), John Ziegler, announced that protective helmets would become mandatory in the NHL. "The introduction of the helmet rule will be an additional safety factor," he said. The only exception to the rule are players -- after signing a waiver form -- who signed pro contracts prior to 1 June 1979.
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