Two days ago, I emailed Mark Littell, former major leaguer and creator of the Nutty Buddy to see if he'd comment on that story I was working on about Flyers center Patrick Thoresen and the dangers of pucks (or anything) to the groin, etc. I told him (or, rather, the Nutty Buddy crack email team) that I needed to have the interview that day, if it was going to happen. It didn't, but the post went up anyway. Mark Littell wasn't that vital to the story.
Yet, yesterday, at around 6:45, a random phone number appears on my cellphone. Who was on the other end of it but Mark Littell.
"Hey, it's the Nutty Buddy guy!," he said, with an indecipherable drawl and what sounded like 90 mph winds swirling in the background. I couldn't talk then, but spoke with him a bit today. I called him and asked him about Thoresen's injury, about whether or not it could've been prevented, and whether or not he was familiar with the injury. "Yes!" he said, then went into Nutty Buddy shill-mode.
So, does he think Nutty Buddy would have lessened Patrick Thoresen's badly bruised groin area. Of course, he said, oh yeah, absolutely, yeah, absolutely....
Then he politely asked who Patrick Thoresen was again.
For 20 minutes, Mark Littell proceeded to talk and talk and talk, using every testicular euphemism available about his product and its design and how this will save testicles all over the world. He said he personally has taken a few shots to the groin while wearing it this year (two with baseballs, three with paintballs), but he wanted to emphasize that he's not a sideshow freak and only does these demonstrations when there are cameras on.
"That'd be pretty stupid. Besides, I just had a triple-bypass surgery. I bleed like a stuck hog. I had one baseball glance off the side of the cup the last time and I was like 'Woooooooow,'" he said. "I bruised up purple in like three hours."
He believes in his product so much that he says, eventually (probably), he'll take a bullet with it.
"Wait ... so, you're going to let someone shoot you with a gun in the balls?" I ask, clutching my own package, shuttering at the thought.
He hesitated. It's a secret. It may or may not happen.
"Possibly," he said.
The Nutty Butty is made of bullet-resistant polyurethane something or other, but Littell makes sure that people understand that the material isn't what protects people — it's the design. His cups protect every part of the male anatomy while most of the athletic protectors now only cover "one and a half testicles."
"Yes, and that's a big problem as well. Sometimes if you get on the cup, it still can completely splatter your nut just from the force alone. The Nutty Buddy covers both 'testicle A' and 'testicle B' so that won't happen," he said, sounding like a man who's job is to say "nut splatter" with the utmost authority.
Littell says one of the biggest hang-up he's had pushing Nutty Buddy on players is the fact that most jocks aren't comfortable. Also? Well, some players feel like pansies if they're wearing a jock.
"Well, they'd be stupid not to wear one. All it takes is one 140 mph line drive right on the button and they'll change their minds. Or, they'll lose a testicle. Or they'll die."
Littell says that is the aspect of his invention he's most proud of — the Nutty Buddy's luxurious comfort. He says that's what most of the athletes and Nutty Buddy wearers are impressed with as well. Gone are the days of baseball players adjusting themselves at the plate — to "the disappointment of women everywhere," he says.
"The best compliment I ever got was from the mother of an 11-year-old boy who said that he fell asleep in his Nutty Buddy. I mean, can you imagine that? He was so comfortable in it that he just fell asleep right there while playing Nintendo or something..."
Littell offered to send me a Nutty Buddy, but not for another couple months.
"You can sleep in it and then do a follow-up!" he said, then asked me what Patrick Thoresen's name was again. And who he plays for. And whether or not the NHL playoffs had started yet. He is planning on sending him one immediately.
"You know, as a joke."
Nutty Buddy [Nutty Buddy]