Mar 23, 2010, 12:00 PM EST
My objection to metal bats is that I hate how they sound, both when players hit the ball and when local hooligans batter my car. But as it turns out, there have been recent renewed efforts to get rid of them for safety reasons, and I can’t say I disagree. On Sunday, Gunnar Sandberg, a 16-year-old from Kentfield (CA) on the Marin Catholic High School baseball team, was clinging to life in a coma after being hit in the temple by a batted ball in a practice game on March 11. In tribute to Sandberg, his team switched to wooden bats, and the case has prompted a debate throughout the league on the safety of metal bats.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The school’s baseball team switched from metal bats to wooden bats as a safety measure in Gunnar’s honor after the March 11 practice game against De La Salle when a batter slammed a line drive into Gunnar’s left temple. Gunnar, who usually plays second base, was on a temporary stint at pitcher when he was struck.
Players tend to hit harder with metal bats, which are lighter, and some coaches and parents argue that they’ve led to an increase in injuries. North Dakota and New York City have banned metal bats in youth baseball.
In 2008, a New Jersey couple whose son was struck in the chest by a line drive sued the maker of a metal baseball bat used in the game. In 2009, a Montana jury awarded $850,000 to the family of Brandon Patch, who was killed in 2003 after being hit in the head by a ball hit by a metal bat in an American Legion game. The jury found that the makers of Louisville Slugger baseball bats failed to adequately warn about the dangers the product can pose. And this past November, a measure by Chicago city alderman Bob Fioretti to ban metal bats in all Chicago youth sports leagues was voted down by the city council.
The biggest objection to banning metal bats? Expense. Many leagues say it would cost too much to replace broken wooden bats. But we got along for more than 40 years with kids just using wooden bats, didn’t we? Although many will say that there is no proof that metal bats are more dangerous than wooden ones, tests have proven that a ball hit with a metal bat go an average of 4 mph faster. In terms of reaction time for a pitcher, that’s huge. Ask the parents above, just how much is a human life worth?
Marin boy’s injury puts focus on metal bats [San Francisco Chronicle]
Parents to Sue Maker of Metal Baseball Bats Over Son’s Injury [Fox News]
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