Welcome to the SportsGuard Blog! Featuring important news,tips and commentary about youth sports protection.


SportsGuard continues to win independent praise from parents and consumers nationwide. Click here and here and here, to read some great posts from mothers who celebrate this brand.

This interview with Dr. James Andrews is a reminder - one we should respect - that there is a crisis in high school sports. Specifically, the problem involves the increasing number of chest and head injuries among a variety of teenage athletes, individuals who deserve better protection. Unless we educate ourselves about this issue, and until coaches and parents recognize the gravity of this situation, high school athletes will put themselves at great risk. The subsequent injuries are too significant to ingore, so let's confront this challenge immediately.

This video is further proof that we must protect players from baseball-relatd head and chest injuries. Let's take action -- now!

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SportsGuard Launches Innovative HeadGuard
This Spring for Youth Baseball Players
SportsGuard Hits Market Ahead of Easton-Bell, Introducing New Category of Head Protection Products for Baseball Pitchers and Fielders
East Brunswick, New Jersey (April 11, 2011) – SPORTSGUARD, LLC, a leading manufacturer of youth sports protection products, today announced the public availability of HeadGuard™, the most practical head protection product created for baseball pitchers and fielders. Designed to discretely fit inside a baseball cap, the HeadGuard™ protects the player when fielding as well as with collisions. The HeadGuard is the only safety product of its kind currently available nationwide, created specifically for youth baseball players.
The HeadGuard is the product of over four years of research and development. HeadGuard’s patented design and unique shock-absorbing material reduces the force of impact of a baseball striking a player’s head. It is easily inserted into the interior sweatband of a baseball cap, which holds it in place, while also taking advantage of the cap’s existing holes for ventilation. Weighing less than two ounces, it is extremely lightweight, breathable, moisture resistant, latex-free, soft, and comfortable for players of all ages.
“Over the past few years, there have been some well publicized head injuries in youth sports – which can be found in the press and all over YouTube, sounding the alarm for parents, coaches, and league organizers. So we are excited to be ushering in a new concept in practical and effective safety equipment for youth baseball,” said Michael S. Green, CEO of SportsGuard. “Until this type of pitcher and fielder protective equipment becomes mandatory, we felt strongly that its design needed to foster widescale player adoption – which factored a great deal into the smart-fitting design of SportsGuard’s HeadGuard.”
While Easton-Bell has recently revealed a prototype of a “pitcher’s helmet” that sits on the exterior of the pitcher’s baseball cap, SportsGuard has purposely taken a different approach with the design of HeadGuard as a protective insert to be discretely secured beneath any baseball cap. While developing the HeadGuard, SportsGuard took special care to address the major design issues of comfort, ventilation, weight and appearance, as well as performance issues such as how the product would affect pitcher balance, pitcher peripheral vision, pitcher cap readjustment, and movement of the baseball cap while fielding. While HeadGuard was originally conceived of for baseball, adults and children alike have used the insert for extra protection while playing softball, paintball, and other sports.
SportsGuard’s “Triple Play”
SportsGuard is officially launching HeadGuard this Spring, alongside two other baseball player protection products, offering a “triple play” for improving youth sports safety and performance:
SportsGuard’s StealthGuard™ heart protector attaches with Velcro Fabric Fusion™ patches to any shirt transforming it into a comfortable heart shield. Each StealthGuard comes with application material for two shirts, so a single product offers the advantage of being used on a short sleeve and long sleeve shirt for year-round protection. 
SportsGuard’s XGrip™ is a cushioned grip with a unique tread and pod-design that extinguishes the sting from aluminum, wood and composite bats – especially in cold weather. It helps batters get through the Zone quickly and with confidence.
Videos and pictures of SportsGuard’s “triple play” products may be viewed and purchased on its website www.sportsguardinc.com.
About SportsGuard
SportsGuard started in November 2007 out of the concern parents and coaches expressed for the safety of youth baseball players.  As some towns and baseball leagues began to mandate the use of heart guards, the founders of SportsGuard recognized a need that current products were not meeting -- effective protection for non-helmeted players pitching and fielding.  SportsGuard founders drew upon their expertise in biophysics and engineering to design HeadGuard™, a smart-fitting product that provides discrete and effective head protection.  Located in central New Jersey, just a few miles from Rutgers University, SportsGuard also offers other breakthrough sports protection products, including the StealthGuard™ heart protector and the XGrip™ cushioned bat grip. SportsGuard products are “available at Ripken Baseball” facilities in Aberdeen, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as well as on SportsGuard’s website www.sportsguardinc.com. Discounts are also available for Teams, Leagues, and Tournament Fundraising. 
A portion of each SportsGuard product sale benefits Eden Autism Services, a national center of excellence serving children and adults with autism, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey. www.edenautismservices.org.
Business Contact:
Michael S. Green
CEO of SportsGuard
Tel: 732-390-7900
Toll-free: 1-855-ROOKIE4
Media Contact:
Ashley Willis
Resound Marketing
609-279-0050 x102
- For Immediate Publication - January 15, 2011
SportsGuard CEO Michael S. Green announced today that SportsGuard, LLC has agreed to a corporate sponsorship program with Ripken Baseball of Aberdeen, Maryland.  Mr. Green stated, "Ripken is a force in youth baseball and has a great brand.  The ideals that the Ripkens espouse for youth baseball players are just what SportsGuard is all about and the Ripken Tournament facilities are top notch.  We're happy to be associated with them." 
SportsGuard products will be sold at the Ripken Tournament facilities in Aberdeen, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  In addition, SportsGuard products will run special promotions for Ripken coaching clinics and in the monthly Ripken e-mail clipboard sent to coaches and parents.  SportsGuard packaging now alerts customers that the products are "available at Ripken Baseball."
Finally, SportsGuard has the opportunity to host a celebrity baseball game in support of autism services for youths at the Ripken facility in Aberdeen, Maryland in the near future.
For more information about SportsGuard, LLC contact:
Michael S. Green, CEO
SportsGuard, LLC, 522 Route 18, Ste. 5, East Brunswick, New Jersey  08816                                                    
Tel: 732-390-7900; Fax: 732-390-5901; E-mail: info@sportsguardinc.com
– For Immediate Publication – September 3, 2010
SportsGuard, a manufacturer of youth protection sporting goods equipment, announced today that it now will support Eden, a national center of excellence that serves children and adults with autism, with every purchase.  A portion of SportsGuard’s proceeds will be donated to Eden which is headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey and has services that extend throughout the U.S.  SportsGuard also hopes to shortly employ adults at Eden locations to package their products as the relationship continues and grows.
CEO Michael Green was asked about SportsGuard’s support of Eden and stated, “It was the right thing to do for our company, we are all about the kids and their families.  Our products were born out of a concern to protect kids while they’re having fun and learning about sports.  Our relationship with Eden is just a natural outgrowth of that kind of mission and spirit.  We look forward to our continuing relationship with Eden.  They’re a great organization.”
 For more information about Eden see www.edenautismservices.org.
For more information contact:

Michael Green, CEO
522 Route 18
East Brunswick, New Jersey 08816
Tel: 732-390-7900
Fax: 732-390-5901


HeadGuard FAQS
HeadGuard FAQS
            It has been estimated that greater than 19 million children are involved in youth baseball in the United States.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also concluded that more baseball related fatalities occur in the 5-14 year old age group than in any other sport. The two scenarios documented by the CPSC focus on the impact of a baseball to a child’s head and chest. It has also been estimated that softball and baseball cause more injuries leading to emergency room visits in the United States than any other sport. See Analysis and Comparison of Head Impacts Using Baseballs of Various Hardness and a Hybrid III Dummy.
Baseball is a sport with inherent risks. Participation in the sport implies acceptance of the risk of injury. Helmets have traditionally been used to reduce the risk of injury from direct impact to the head for batters and runners. However, the risk of head injury for nonhelmeted baseball players in Youth Baseball Leagues has not been addressed. Young pitchers and infielders, especially, are vulnerable to direct impacts from baseballs that are hit from aluminum bats and throws from other fielders.
Aluminum bats used in Youth Baseball have been shown in some studies to increase the batted ball speed and rebound of baseballs. Youths that have slower reflexes may be unable to respond as well to these increased speeds. In addition, softer baseballs have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of injury from impact to the head.
            Most recently, after an unfortunate and catastrophic head injury to a minor league third base coach, Major League Baseball (MLB) has changed their rules to protect first and third base coaches. As of the 2008 season, MLB third and first base coaches must now wear helmets.
            Protection for nonhelmeted youth baseball players that does not inhibit their play, provides ventilation and can be used with their ever-changing uniforms at a reasonable price for parents has not been addressed. HeadGuard by SportsGuard is protection in the form of a light-weight, comfortable sports guard for nonhelmeted baseball players at a reasonable price.
            Aluminum bats were introduced in the early 1970’s and have since dominated the youth and amateur adult baseball and softball markets. Some studies have shown that aluminum bats may perform better than wood bats in two ways: (1) the balls “rebound” or come off metal bats faster and (2) the “batted speed” or the speed of the ball itself after it comes off the bat is faster. See Physics and Acoustics of Baseball & Softball Bats.
Most recently, some school systems and baseball leagues have banned aluminum bats due to a concern that their increased performance may endanger the safety of the youth baseball player.
Aluminum bats may outperform wood bats because (1) they may be swung faster, (2) they have a “trampoline effect” as the hollow bat acts like a spring, and (3) the batted ball speed away from the sweet spot is higher than in wood bats.
This increased performance has shown in some studies that aluminum bats may allow balls to be hit as much as 8-mph faster than a wood bat. These same studies have also indicated that the batted ball speed is often 20-30 mph faster than the pitched ball speed. Therefore, a pitch of 60 mph that is hit may have a batted ball speed of 80-90 mph when it goes into the field of play towards the youth baseball player. Until now, batters were protected from the 60 mph pitch with rigid helmets and nothing was done to protect pitchers and fielders from the 80 mph batted ball coming back at them.
So, youth baseball players that are fielding hits from aluminum bats will according to some studies have to react to batted balls that “rebound” faster, come at them with greater speed and go farther. Unfortunately, it is youth baseball players, ages 7-12, that may have slower reflexes or reaction times to deal with the increased speeds of aluminum bats compared to their older counterparts.
            Standards for helmet protection in the United States have traditionally fallen into two categories, government standards, such as those mandated by the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission), and voluntary, or industry standards.
Organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) have determined voluntary standards for helmets.
            The CPSC has mandated since March of 1999 certain standards for bicycle riding helmets manufactured for sale in the U.S.   Other helmet standards for sports such as baseball, football, hockey and lacrosse have been determined by the NOCSAE and ASTM. In 1973 the NOCSAE standard for football helmets was developed. The NOCSAE standard for baseball helmets was first published in 1981 and first tested to this standard in 1983. The standards and their testing have been revised over the last twenty years.
            The NCAA and the NFHSA (National Federation of State High School Associations) mandate that helmets for football, baseball batters, and lacrosse meet the NOCSAE standards. The NOCSAE and ASTM helmet standards attempt to measure the injury producing linear and angular accelerations resulting from head impact. (Tests include dropping a helmet in free fall and measuring the helmet’s ability to attenuate the kinetic energy imparted during the test and linear projectile impact tests. The NOCSAE tests require a series of impacts in specific locations. The results are reported in severity index (SI) units. The ASTM data are usually provided in peak g levels. The pass-fail criterion may vary with headgear type but is normally 300 g or below registered inside the headform in a drop test.)
To meet some safety standards, a baseball is shot 60 mph at close range at a batting helmet. Helmets must resist impact and damage as measured through a severity index.   (See NOCSAE standards for Baseball Batter’s Helmet and Baseball Catcher’s Helmet - NDO22, NDO24.)
            Modifications in the hardness and compressibility of softballs and baseballs have been developed for use by children of different ages with the intent of reducing the force of impact while maintaining performance characteristics. The NOCSAE has developed standards for these softer baseballs. An expert review indicated that softer balls that meet the NOCSAE standard are less likely to result in serious head injury or commotion cordis (chest injury) attributable to ball impact. See Youth Baseball Protective Equipment Project: Final Report. CPSC.
            The helmet evaluation tests for softer baseballs have limited validation for direct head impacts. Independent tests of softer baseballs and a check of the NOCSAE standard as a safety test for unprotected head impacts was conducted by the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery Associates in Ann Arbor, Michigan. See Analysis and Comparison of Head Impacts Using Baseballs of Various Hardness and a Hybrid III DummyThis study explored the direct baseball impact on the front and side of the head to a nonhelmeted youth baseball player.
            This study used a pneumatic baseball gun to impact a test dummy’s head at 60 mph as specified in NOCSAE standard for helmet impact protection. Baseball impacts were delivered to three head locations: frontally on the forehead, frontally between the eyes, and laterally on the right temple above the level of the nasion. Commercially available baseballs were tested in the three-head impact configurations. The relative impact energies were identified. Data was analyzed for the “head injury criterion” (HIC) to determine head injury risk, utilizing skull fracture and brain injury data for forehead impacts to calculate the probability of serious injury during frontal impact. The results indicated that softer baseballs resulted in progressively greater reductions in acceleration and head injury criterion (HIC) and showed a reduced injury factor.
            Of note, frontal impact areas that had a greater thickness of skin covering the metal skull of the dummy in the testing, showed a lower acceleration and HIC (less risk of injury). In addition, lateral impact areas showed greater acceleration and HIC than frontal impacts in part related also to a thinner head skin covering the temple region. 
            This was explained by the fact that skin bottoms out with a hardball impact, the skull remains stiff, and high acceleration occurs. The study found that the softer balls significantly reduce the risk of skull fracture and head injury. The study concluded that a validated procedure is required to measure the underlying risk of direct impact by baseballs and soft balls used in sport.   
            As a result of an unfortunate accident involving a minor league baseball coach in July of 2007, beginning in the 2008 Spring Season, Major League Baseball first and third base coaches must wear helmets. See New Helmet Rule for MLB Base Coaches.
            All the current standards applied are for rigid helmeted baseball players.   Few studies have looked at nonhelmeted baseball players. The only studies that reviewed direct impact to the head with nonhelmeted baseball players have found that softer balls and thicker skin on the skull will reduce the risk of injury from direct impacts to the head.
            Youth Baseball players that play with aluminum bats have never had protection in the field. The way protection from direct impact to the head for fielders and pitchers should be designed has never even been addressed. Complicating the issue is the need for protection that does not interfere with pitching and fielding, ventilates well, can be used with different uniforms from year to year of youth baseball leagues and is reasonably priced. 
            Such nonhelmet protection will not conform to the standards of a rigid batting helmet. But, it may offer some protection to reduce the risk of injury by modeling its design from evidence in studies about reducing the risk of baseball direct impact head injuries. These studies have shown that softening the baseball or thickening the skull’s skin reduces the risk of injury from a direct impact by a baseball to the head.
Other protection currently offered as sports guards for youth baseball players, such as the heart guards, do not have, perhaps because of their relatively new and novel approach, organizational testing standards at this time. Their goal is to prevent the impact to the chest from producing a rhythm disturbance to the heart and respiratory rhythm due to the high speed of baseball impact and shock to the cardiorespiratory systems. Some of these heart guards have even been adopted by youth leagues and made mandatory.
The HeadGuard by SportsGuard is the first protection designed for nonhelmeted youth baseball players. 
The HeadGuard is protection for nonhelmeted youth baseball players that does not inhibit their play, provides ventilation and can be used with their ever-changing uniforms at a reasonable price for parents. HeadGuard by SportsGuard is protection in the form of a light-weight, comfortable sports guard for nonhelmeted baseball players at a reasonable price. The HeadGuard is protection where THEY need it!


·       New Helmet Rule for MLB Base Coaches
·       Boston Globe – April 22, 2007 – Young Pitcher Fighting Back from Head Injury
·       Youth Baseball Coaching – John T. Reed – 2nd Edition
·       Baseball Coach Dies After Baseball Injury – July 2007
·       Girl 12, Dies from Softball Injury – July 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
MLB general managers have decided that first and third base coaches must wear helmets next season. The decision comes in response to the death of minor league base coach Mike Coolbaugh.
I really do not know where to stand on this issue. On one hand, you have the safety of the coaches in mind. On the other, I think the coaches should have a say in whether or not they are required to wear a protective helmet.
The incident with Coolbaugh was a freak accident. In all the baseball games I’ve watched and played in my life, I’ve never seen a base coach hit with a batted ball. Some close calls are inevitably going to happen but that’s the game of baseball. There are many more ways to get hurt than just off a foul ball.
The problem I have with such a measure is where do we stop? Do we make the field umpires wear helmets? What about infielders and pitchers? They all stand as close, if not closer, than a base umpire.
To me it comes down to the same issue as whether or not aluminum bats should be allowed in college and youth leagues. My response to that question is freak accidents do happen.
Unfortunately, what happened to Coolbaugh was terrible. However, I do not think one worst-case scenario requires action like that taken by baseball GMs.
MLB wants helmets for base coaches
November 9th, 2007 · No Comments
The unthinkable and the unimaginable happened this past summer. The first base coach for the Colorado Rockies AA affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers, was killed by a line drive that hit him in the neck. Former major league baseball player turned coach, Mike Coolbaugh was coaching first base when he was struck by a foul ball directly in the neck and was killed. Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence but it has happened in the past. Ray Chapman who played for the Cleveland Indians in 1920 was killed after being hit by a pitch. However MLB didn’t institute the mandatory helmet rule until 1971. Well some 87 years later and one unfortunate death, the general managers and MLB themselves have decided to make it mandatory for all base coaches to wear a helmet on the field. This may seem weird at first but everyone around baseball seems to agree with this concept. Senior vice president for baseball operations, Joe Garagiola said the GM’s adopted this idea and that it won’t need any additional approvals at the winter meetings in Nashville. So next year when you see base coaches wearing helmets on the field, don’t panic. It may save their lives.

MLB Coaches to Wear Helmets in Wake of Mike Coolbaugh Tragedy

by Mlnsports
The MLB owners meeting issued a release yesterday that base coaches will be required to wear protective head gear in the wake of the line drive accident that killed Tulsa Drillers third base coach Mike Coolbaugh in July.
I wrote a piece back in July called "The Height of Cool" where I called for protective gear for the players. Branch Rickey, the president of the Pacific Coast League, wrote in our VIP Room at MAJOR BLOGS that it was being resisted and probably wouldn't happen because no one had the proper gear.
I said to him: "And Mizuno or Wilson or one of the other vendors wouldn't jump at the chance to build a proper helmet for a base coach if MLB sanctioned it?"
Now there is a reason to develop proper gear to protect the coaches. It would have been nice, along with the announcement, if the MLB owners had announced that they were making a generous contribution to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund. Mike left behind two children and a pregnant wife. He now has three kids, and, because he was a minor league player, he doesn't draw a pension from the game that he played for 12 years.
The Tulsa Drillers and a local bank established the fund.

Donations are still being accepted to benefit the Coolbaugh family through the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund. Donations can be sent to SpiritBank at the address below. Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund

Coolbaugh's death prompts MLB to adopt helmets for base coaches

Associated Press

Updated: November 8, 2007, 10:48 PM ET

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baseball wants to prevent another tragic accident like the one that killed Mike Coolbaugh.

General managers decided Thursday that first- and third-base coaches will wear some sort of head protection next season, a move that came four months after Coolbaugh was struck in the neck by a line drive during a minor league game.

Coolbaugh, a former major league player, was a coach for the Colorado Rockies' Double-A team in Tulsa when he died July 22. He had been hit by a liner as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a Texas League game at Arkansas.

Some major league coaches responded by wearing helmets the rest of the season.

"There was a sentiment that as a concept this was a good idea," said Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

GMs will decide on the exact form of protection when they meet next month at the winter meetings.

"We're going to come back in Nashville with some options: liners, hard caps, helmets without flaps, helmets with flaps," Garagiola said.

Larry Bowa, the Los Angeles Dodgers' new third-base coach, understands the decision and already has a preference for headgear.

"They're just trying to take safety measures," Bowa said. "I prefer to wear an insert. With an ear flap, I would definitely think it would be a hindrance, it would get in the way."

While no formal vote was taken, Garagiola said the thinking of the GMs was clear.

"Everybody just felt it was a situation that made sense," Detroit Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said.

Many batters started wearing helmets after Ray Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was killed when he was hit by a pitch during a game in 1920. A rule requiring helmets for batters was adopted in 1971.

"If you think about the evolution of the batting helmet, unfortunately what ended up happening this year is essentially what happened with Ray Chapman," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said. "I think we need to come up with a recommendation."

Garagiola said the recommendation adopted by the GMs next month will not need additional approvals.

Coolbaugh's widow, Amanda, gave birth to his daughter, Anne Michael, on Friday in San Antonio, the Drillers said.

Rockies players voted Amanda Coolbaugh a full postseason share last month. The couple's two sons, 5-year-old Joseph and 3-year-old Jacob, threw out ceremonial first pitches before Game 3 of Colorado's first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Majors Considering Helmets for Coaches
Top of Form
Published: August 24, 2007
A little more than a month after a minor league first-base coach was killed by a foul ball, Major League Baseball is considering a rule change that would require all coaches to wear helmets on the field.
The measure, which was discussed at a meeting of team scouting and farm directors this week, will be discussed at the general managers’ meetings in November. If adopted, it could be implemented as early as next season in the majors and the minors.
On July 22, Mike Coolbaugh, 35, the Tulsa Drillers’ hitting coach, died after he was struck in or near the head by a line drive while standing in the first-base coach’s box. An autopsy showed a burst blood vessel in his neck near his brain.
“The issue should be discussed because we had a situation where a tragedy befell someone on the field, and we are the guardians of the sport, and the general managers will make a decision to what level it should be implemented,” Jimmie Lee Solomon, M.L.B.’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said yesterday in a telephone interview.
“We want to think about ways that we could have a positive impact, and have looked at the fact that base runners use batting helmets, and we think we should extend that to the coaches at first and third base.”
In Denver on Wednesday, Joe Garagiola Jr., M.L.B.’s senior vice president for baseball operations, instructed each team’s representatives to discuss the measure with their organizations.
Solomon, referring to the meetings, said: “It could be just the minor leagues. I can’t say if it will be voted on, but it will be discussed.”
Coaches at first and third base can be caught off guard by hard-hit balls because their duties often require them to keep an eye on base runners and fielders even as a pitch is being thrown.
Since Coolbaugh’s death, Rene Lachemann, the third-base coach for the Oakland Athletics, and Glenallen Hill, the first-base coach for the Colorado Rockies, have begun wearing helmets.
“I plan to play a few more rounds of golf in the off-season instead of pushing up daisies in the third-base coach’s box,” Lachemann told reporters shortly after he decided to wear the helmet.
Jerry Manuel, the Mets’ bench coach, who coached first base for the Mets in 2005 and third for Montreal from 1991-96, said he would protect himself if he went back to coaching on the field.
“At the age I am now, I will take chest protectors, shin guards, anything,” Manuel said. “In light of what happened, if you can prevent things from happening again, it is worth it.”
A decision to require the use of helmets by coaches in the majors could hinge on how the proposal is interpreted by officials and the players union under the collective bargaining agreement.
The agreement contains a provision that the union has to be given notice of rules changes and that changes that could affect players must have the consent of the union.
Coaches, Solomon said, were not covered by the agreement and a rule change would not need union approval.
Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel, said that “any change potentially affecting conditions on the field of play requires bargaining with the union.”
Weiner would not say what the union’s position on the matter would be.
“The basic agreement requires the commissioner’s office to give us notice of any proposed rule change,” he said. “If we receive a notice of this proposed change, we will respond to the commissioner’s office after discussing it with the players.”
Ben Shpigel contributed reporting.
MLB Coaches To Don Protective Headgear
November 8th, 2007 by Ian · 2 Comments ·
During the GM meetings today down in Orlando, the general managers decided to put a rule into place having the first and third base coaches wear some kind of protection for their heads. This comes in the wake of Rockies minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh being struck and killed with a batted ball during a Tulsa Drillers game.
The move for helmets wasn’t formally voted on but it was made clear that this is what the GM’s want done for next year. When they convene again in Nashville for the winter meetings, they will decide what type of protection will be worn by the coaches.
Rockies first base coach Glenallen Hill started to wear a helmet a few weeks after Coolbaugh was struck.
This is definitely the right move by the general managers. There have been too many close calls with MLB coaches almost being struck with batted balls. They are usually standing less than 90 feet from the plate and batted balls can come off the bats over 100 MPH. How long though until we see a first or third base coach looking like Jose Canseco down there?
Young pitcher fighting back from head injury
Batting practice accident rekindles wood-aluminum debate
By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff  |  April 22, 2007
His grin was unmistakable. So was the delight in his blue eyes.
What was missing were the words.
With family and friends gathered around him, Matt Cook opened a package from his aunt on Tuesday, his 15th birthday, that held a baseball autographed by one of his favorite players, Seattle Mariners centerfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Thrilled with his present, the lanky teen tried several times to say something, but the words seemed to evaporate before he could get them out.
Cook's passion for baseball is unwavering, though his will to play the game is being sorely tested. Three weeks ago, a ball slammed into the left side of his head as the freshman pitched varsity batting practice at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. The March 30 accident fractured his skull, caused substantial bleeding and swelling in his brain, dulled sensation down his right side, and severely impaired his ability to speak.
The prognosis is for a full recovery, according to his parents, although many months of intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy are ahead. The frightening ordeal has prompted Cook's parents to advocate that schools switch from aluminum to wooden bats -- echoing a debate that has long simmered among high school baseball teams and in Little League, where aluminum bats predominate.

Click the play button below to hear an interview with interviews Tom Cook, father of Matt Cook

"How many more Matt Cooks will there be before they make a change?" asked Matt's mom, Ann Cook.
There is no definitive study comparing the safety of metal versus wood, but opponents of metal bats say they increase the chances of serious injury. Aluminum's defenders say science just does not back up the premise that wood is safer.
As the debate continues, the Cooks are focusing first on Matt's recovery. Doctors have told them that Matt's brain will need at least six months to heal, and that he should not play any contact sports until then. This seems like an eternity to the teen.
"We're just grateful that he's still alive," said Ann Cook.
There have been many agonizing hours. The first three days after the accident were critical, as the Cook family waited for the swelling in Matt's brain to subside. He spent two days in intensive care at Children's Hospital in Boston, then five more in the facility's neurological unit before being transferred to the pediatric unit of Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Since then, the Cook's Hamilton homestead has extended to Spaulding, where doctors say Matt will remain until May 2. Ann, 46, and her husband, Tom, 49, alternate nights sleeping by Matt's side. Their two daughters, Jennifer, 12, and Carolyn, 10, have also logged so many hours there that they can deftly navigate the maze-like corridors of the hospital to lead a visitor back to the parking lot.
His grin was unmistakable. So was the delight in his blue eyes.
What was missing were the words.
With family and friends gathered around him, Matt Cook opened a package from his aunt on Tuesday, his 15th birthday, that held a baseball autographed by one of his favorite players, Seattle Mariners centerfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Thrilled with his present, the lanky teen tried several times to say something, but the words seemed to evaporate before he could get them out.
Cook's passion for baseball is unwavering, though his will to play the game is being sorely tested. Three weeks ago, a ball slammed into the left side of his head as the freshman pitched varsity batting practice at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. The March 30 accident fractured his skull, caused substantial bleeding and swelling in his brain, dulled sensation down his right side, and severely impaired his ability to speak.
The prognosis is for a full recovery, according to his parents, although many months of intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy are ahead. The frightening ordeal has prompted Cook's parents to advocate that schools switch from aluminum to wooden bats -- echoing a debate that has long simmered among high school baseball teams and in Little League, where aluminum bats predominate.
"How many more Matt Cooks will there be before they make a change?" asked Matt's mom, Ann Cook.
There is no definitive study comparing the safety of metal versus wood, but opponents of metal bats say they increase the chances of serious injury. Aluminum's defenders say science just does not back up the premise that wood is safer.
As the debate continues, the Cooks are focusing first on Matt's recovery. Doctors have told them that Matt's brain will need at least six months to heal, and that he should not play any contact sports until then. This seems like an eternity to the teen.
"We're just grateful that he's still alive," said Ann Cook.
There have been many agonizing hours. The first three days after the accident were critical, as the Cook family waited for the swelling in Matt's brain to subside. He spent two days in intensive care at Children's Hospital in Boston, then five more in the facility's neurological unit before being transferred to the pediatric unit of Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Since then, the Cook's Hamilton homestead has extended to Spaulding, where doctors say Matt will remain until May 2. Ann, 46, and her husband, Tom, 49, alternate nights sleeping by Matt's side. Their two daughters, Jennifer, 12, and Carolyn, 10, have also logged so many hours there that they can deftly navigate the maze-like corridors of the hospital to lead a visitor back to the parking lot.
Page 2 of 2 --
Their big brother has come a long way since March 30, when a line drive left him so dazed that he could not tell the team's trainer, and later doctors, what year it was or where he lived. Today he can speak in halting sentences, often looking to one of his parents for help when he forgets a word.
And yet, on his first day in intensive care, his zeal for baseball was so strong that he tried to ask his mother whether he would be able to play in that day's scheduled scrimmage. He couldn't remember the words or pronounce the sounds, so he held up one finger, then another, trying to signal 11 a.m., the game's scheduled start time, then made a swinging motion.
"It was heartbreaking," said Ann Cook, recalling the image of her oldest child struggling to speak.
Baseball is in the family's genes. Tom Cook, a left-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of Hamilton-Wenham High School, but turned down a chance at the big leagues to attend college. He had planned to take another crack at major league ball after graduation, but a college injury ended that dream. Since then, he has coached his son in Little League, and more recently on his Swampscott-based Amateur Athletic Union team.
Both parents say they have seen players get injured in the more competitive AAU league, which uses metal bats, but neither had advocated for a switch to wooden bats until their son's accident.

Click the play button below to hear an interview with interviews Tom Cook, father of Matt Cook

"We've seen nasty hits, but nothing like this," said Tom Cook.
Matt Cook's injury, however, is unlikely to prompt Hamilton-Wenham's varsity baseball team to switch to wooden bats, said School Committee vice chairman Richard Boroff. While the School Committee sets school policy, Boroff said that if it "unilaterally" decided to switch to wooden bats, the decision would likely get the school district kicked out of the Cape Ann League, which uses metal bats. And even if the team wasn't expelled, competitors would be using metal bats, so Hamilton-Wenham's players would still be exposed to them, he said.
"Obviously, there is no way to completely protect anyone in a baseball realm," Boroff said.
While the school district does use a safety screen for its pitchers during batting practice, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, based at the University of North Carolina, also recommends that pitchers "always" wear a helmet during practice -- something the Hamilton-Wenham players do not do. Asked about that, Boroff said he would discuss the helmet issue with the district's athletic director, but would leave the decision to the AD.
Still, Matt Cook can't wait to get back to the game. With his doctors' permission, Cook was cleared for a brief home visit this weekend. To no one's surprise, Cook's first request was to watch his team play ball at Masconomet Regional High School.
Cook also is anxious to go back to school. But that is not likely to happen soon. Doctors have advised that the noise and crowded hallways may be too much stimulation for his healing brain, so he will initially be tutored at home and then return for half-days, his parents said.
The teen, who endured headaches that were so excruciating in the first week after his accident that he mouthed the words "I die" to his mother, is also determined to go to college.
And though his speech is still halting, there is no pause when he is asked whether he plans to play baseball again.
"Definitely," he said.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
Copyright 2000, 2006 by John T. Reed
Baseball is by far the most dangerous of the popular youth sports. Amazingly, hardly anyone seems aware of this. Millions of parents who refuse to let their child play youth football, one of the safest youth sports, blithely send them off to baseball without a thought about safety. What's worse is the injuries youth baseball players suffer are almost all easily preventable. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see my book, Youth Baseball Coaching.
Sports that have a dangerous image, like youth football and youth hockey, have adopted virtually every safety recommendation made by the pertinent medical and safety groups. But youth-baseball organizations have almost completely ignored the safety recommendations pertinent to their sport. One organization, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, even went so far as to issue a position statement (May 1991) noting that football and hockey adopted recommended safety equipment and drastically reduced injuries, while baseball has ignored the recommendations and continues to have a high injury rate as a result.
  1. The 3/27/00 Sports Illustrated had an article about C405 aluminum bats causing a higher rate of serious injuries to pitchers in college baseball. Arizona State University pitcher Ryan Mills got his jaw broken. University of Houston pitcher Danny Crawford lost five teeth. Cal State-Northridge pitcher Andrew Sanchez's skull was fractured. The basic message of the article was that injuries increased when the new bat was allowed in 1996. NCAA was going to change the standard to a safer one, but stopped when they were sued by Easton. A couple of points:
    • Pitcher injuries did not start with the C405. It may make them worse, but the basic danger and the same injuries have always been there regardless of bat material. Pitchers being hurt by batted balls stems primarily from the proximity to the plate and the vulnerable body position of pitchers at the moment of bat contact with the ball, not the composition of the bat.
    • Making the bats less dangerous is a step in the right direction, but requiring protective goggles, mouthguards, and maybe even pitcher helmets at the college level, are obviously also indicated.
Requiring college pitchers to wear helmets probably seems overly cautious. That consensus will end with the first fatality. I suspect NCAA should has more to fear from the suit by the parents of that first dead college pitcher than from any suit by Easton.

Coach dies after baseball injury
A minor league baseball coach has died after being struck on the head by a ball hit by one of his own players.
Tulsa Drillers first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, an ex-major league player, was injured by a foul ball hit by Tino Sanchez during a game in Arkansas.
A police spokesman said he stopped breathing as the ambulance arrived at North Little Rock's Baptist Medical Center and could not be resusitated.
Coolbaugh, 35, only joined Texas League outfit Tulsa on 3 July.
"It's a tragedy for all of baseball," Drillers president Chuck Lamson told the Tulsa World newspaper on Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
A former player with the Drillers, Coolbaugh played 44 MLB games, the last of them for St Louis in 2002.
A native of Binghamton, New York, he went to high school in San Antonio and was drafted in 1990 by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Coolbaugh played third base and bounced around the minor leagues for a decade, before making his major league debut with Milwaukee in 2001.
He played five more big league games for the Cardinals in 2002, hitting two home runs in 70 major league at-bats.
Coolbaugh is survived by his wife, Mandy, and two young sons, Joseph and Jacob. Mandy Coolbaugh is expecting another child in October.

July 26, 2007 9:17 AM Posted By Bruce H. Stern
Girl, 12, dies from softball head injury
Maggie Hilbrands, a 12-year old Grand Rapids, Michigan softball player died yesterday after being struck in the head with a ball during practice on Tuesday. The ball struck her head, producing a brain injury that caused her heart to temporarily stop, and she never regained consciousness.
This is a tradgic story that only increases the need for additional traumatic brain injury awareness and educational programs. More and more there is an increased need today to be extremely careful and more importantly aware of the causes of traumatic brain injury.
Girl, 12, dies from softball head injury
       Story Highlights
       Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Hilbrands, 12, dies of brain injury
       Michigan girl hit in head by softball during infield practice Monday
       She never regained consciousness, mother says
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (AP) -- A 12-year-old softball player suffered a brain injury when she was hit in the head with a ball during practice, and died a day later, police and family said.

Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Hilbrands was hit during a routine infield drill on Monday -- a day after the death of a minor-league baseball coach who was struck by a line drive in Arkansas. The Grand Rapids girl died Tuesday at DeVos Children's Hospital.

Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Hilbrands died Tuesday, a day after a softball struck her in the head.

"She missed the ball. It appears it hit her in the wrong spot. She never regained consciousness," her mother, Jan Hilbrands, told The Grand Rapids Press.

The ball struck her head, producing a brain injury that caused her heart to temporarily stop, police and family told the paper. Rescuers performed CPR at the scene.

The Kent County medical examiner's office planned to conduct an autopsy Thursday.

Maggie had been set to enter the seventh grade this fall at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School. She had been practicing with teammates on the Lowell Xtreme traveling softball team.

"The team is having a real hard time," her mother said. "This was kind of Maggie's first experience with the traveling team, but she really enjoyed it."

On Sunday, Mike Coolbaugh, a 35-year-old coach for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, died after being struck by a line drive as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a game in Arkansas.

On Tuesday, Mark Malcolm, the coroner for Pulaski County, Arkansas, told the Tulsa World that Coolbaugh died from a loss of blood to the brain after the foul ball hit him on the left side of his neck, rupturing an artery.

Coolbaugh was given CPR on the field, but Malcolm said there was nothing medical personnel could have done to save him.


·       United States Consumer Product Safety Commission Study of June 4, 1997
·       Oklahoma Report of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Baseball 1992-1994
·       The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal Article – Sept. 1999
·       University of Minnesota – Public Health Article – Injury Prevention – 2004
CPSC Releases Study of Protective Equipment for Baseball
June 4, 1996
Release # 96-140




Related Articles

For Immediate Release;
Contact: Kathleen Begala
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1193

"We want kids outside in the sunshine, not inside in an emergency room," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown.
WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that safety equipment for baseball could significantly reduce the amount and severity of 58,000 (or almost 36 percent of) baseball-related injuries to children each year.
Baseball, softball, and teeball are among the most popular sports in the United States, with an estimated 6 million children ages 5 to 14 participating in organized leagues and 13 million children participating in non-league play. In 1995, hospital emergency rooms treated 162,100 children for baseball-related injuries.
At a press conference at Camden Yards stadium, home of the Baltimore Orioles, CPSC released the findings from its one-year study on the ability of protective equipment, including softer-than-standard baseballs, safety release bases, and batting helmets with face guards, to reduce injuries to children playing baseball.
"CPSC is the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safety of 15,000 different types of consumer products, including sports equipment and products claiming to reduce injuries and increase safety," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Parents need to know what options they have in protective equipment so they can make the best decisions for their children playing baseball."
Nick Senter, executive director of the Dixie Baseball League, an organization based in 11 Southern states, and Richard Bancells, trainer of the Baltimore Oriole's baseball team, joined Chairman Brown for today's announcement.
Senter said, "Since we began using batting helmets with face guards in the Dixie League, we've seen a drop in both injury rates and insurance rates."
CPSC collected and analyzed data on baseball, softball, and teeball-related deaths and injuries to children to determine specifically how these children were injured and what safety equipment could prevent such injuries. CPSC also studied voluntary safety standards and reviewed published scientific literature evaluating currently available protective equipment.
CPSC analyzed the 88 reports it received of baseball-related deaths of children between 1973 and 1995. It found that 68 of the deaths were caused by ball impact and 13 were caused by bat impact. Of the 68 ball impact deaths, 38 resulted from blows to the chest while 21 deaths were caused by a ball hitting a player's head.
Of the 162,100 hospital emergency-room-treated injuries in 1995, most of the injuries (almost 75 percent) occurred to older children ages 10 to 14. This age group represents about half of the total number of children playing baseball.
Of the total number of injuries to children, CPSC considers about 33 percent severe, including fractures, concussions, internal injuries, and dental injuries. The remaining 67 percent less severe injuries include contusions, abrasions, lacerations, strains, and sprains. More than 50 percent of the children under age 11 who were injured while playing baseball sustained injuries to the head and neck area, while a larger percentage of older children sustained injuries to their arms and legs.
Based on its analyses, CPSC found that three pieces of safety equipment will help reduce injuries. Softer-than-standard baseballs and softballs, which have a softer, spongier core than standard baseballs and softballs, can reduce ball impact injuries. Face guards that attach to batting helmets and protect the face can reduce injuries to batters.
Safety bases that release from their anchor can reduce sliding injuries. Safety release bases that are based on age, gender, and skill levels of the players provide the best protection.
Conclusions from the CPSC Study:
  • Baseball protective equipment currently on the market may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of more than 58,000 injuries or almost 36 percent an estimated 162,100 hospital emergency-room-treated, baseball-related injuries occurring to children each year.
  • Softer-than-standard balls may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of the 47,900 ball impact injuries to the head and neck.
  • Batting helmets with face guards may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of about 3,900 facial injuries occurring to batters in organized play.
  • Safety release bases that leave no holes in the ground or parts of the base sticking up from the ground when the base is released may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of the 6,600 base-contact sliding injuries occurring in organized play.

Study Overview on Baseball Deaths, Injuries, and Protective Equipment
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is releasing the results of a one-year study on the ability of safety equipment to reduce baseball injuries and deaths. The study found that injuries to children playing baseball could be reduced by the use of softer-than-standard baseballs, face guards on batting helmets, and safety release bases. CPSC's baseball project found that protective equipment could significantly reduce the number and severity of 58,000 or almost 36 percent of baseball-related injuries to children each year.
Baseball, softball, and teeball are among the most popular youth team sports in the United States. CPSC estimates that 6 million children ages 5 to 14 participate each year in organized leagues, while another 13 million children participate in non-league play.
Baseball leads team sports in deaths to children with three to four deaths each year. The sport ranks third in annual injuries to children following basketball and football. In 1995, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 162,100 children for baseball-related injuries.


CPSC is the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safety of 15,000 different types of consumer products, including sports equipment and products claiming to reduce injuries and increase safety.
CPSC collected and analyzed data on baseball, softball, and teeball-related deaths and injuries to children ages 5-14 to determine specifically how these children were injured and what safety equipment could prevent such injuries. CPSC also studied voluntary safety standards and reviewed published scientific literature evaluating currently available protective equipment, including softer-than-standard baseballs and softballs, face guards for batting helmets, and modified safety bases. This study analyzed injuries to children playing baseball in organized league play and informal recreational backyard, school, and neighborhood play.

Analysis of Death and Injury Data
CPSC collected information on deaths from death certificates, the agency's Medical Examiners and Coroners Alert Project, consumer complaints, and news clips.
From 1973 to 1995, CPSC received reports of 88 baseball-related deaths to children.
  • 68 deaths or 77 percent from ball impact
  • 13 deaths or 15 percent from bat impact
  • 7 deaths or 8 percent cause unknown
The 68 ball impact deaths break down as follows:
  • 38 deaths or 56 percent to the chest
  • 21 deaths or 31 percent to the head
  • 9 deaths or 13 percent to other areas
To obtain information on how baseball-related injuries to children occur, CPSC used injury data from April 1995 to August 1995 from hospital emergency rooms collected by the agency's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System also know as NEISS. CPSC completed a telephone survey of 348 NEISS cases of injured children answering questions (with parental permission) or with parents answering questions about their children's injuries and use of protective equipment.
Hospital emergency rooms treated about 162,100 children ages 5 to 14 for baseball-related injuries in 1995. Most of the injuries, almost 75 percent, occurred to the older children ages 10 to 14, representing about half of the total number of children in this age group.
Of the total number of injuries to children, CPSC considers about 33 percent as severe, including fractures, concussions, internal injuries, and dental injuries. The remaining 67 percent of the less severe injuries include contusions, abrasions, lacerations, strains, and sprains. More than 50 percent of the children under age 11 who were injured while playing baseball sustained injuries to the head and neck area, while a larger percentage of older children sustained injuries to their shoulders, arms, and legs.
  • 162,100 hospital emergency-room-treated, baseball-related injuries to children ages 5-14
  • Almost 75 percent of injuries occur to children ages 10-14
  • 33 percent of injuries were severe
Based on the telephone survey of 348 hospital emergency-room cases, CPSC identified the causes of the 162,100 baseball-related injuries to determine whether protective equipment could prevent injuries.
Injury Cause
Approximate Number
Hit by ball
Hit by bat

Analysis of Baseball Protective Equipment
Softer-than-Standard Baseballs and Softballs
Ball impact injuries to the head and chest are the most severe and frequent of all baseball injuries. Ball impact to the chest accounted for 38 deaths, while ball impact to the head accounted for 21 deaths. Of the 88,700 ball impact injuries, which account for 55 percent of all hospital emergency-room-treated baseball injuries, 54 percent (or 47,900 ball impact injuries) were to the head and neck. 35,200 ball-impact injuries to the face occurred during organized play.
Official major and youth league standard baseballs have a core of cork or rubber, which is wound with natural or synthetic fibers, such as wool or cotton, and covered with two pieces of leather sewn together with 108 stitches. Softer baseballs have a much larger core made of soft, spongy natural or synthetic substances, such as soft polyurethane, rubber, or kapok, with no winding, and a cover. Softer-than-standard softballs have a spongier core than standard softballs.
Softer-than-standard baseballs and softballs may reduce the risk and severity of 47,900 hospital emergency-room-treated injuries to children being hit by the ball, particularly to the head and neck. CPSC found that 97 percent of ball impact injuries where the child identified the type of ball involved a standard ball. The percent of hospital emergency-room-treated injuries involving softer balls were lower than their share of the market, and injuries from softer balls were less severe than those from standard balls. Softer-than-standard baseballs and softballs are available nationwide at prices that are competitive with standard baseballs and softballs.
CPSC studied all available scientific literature on the softer-than-standard baseball, including published articles suggesting that softer balls may increase the risk of death from ball impact to the chest. CPSC commissioned expert reviews of these articles, which found that the biological and biomechanical models used to mimic chest impact deaths in children were not accurate representations of the way death occurs to children on the baseball field. The agency has found no convincing evidence that softer balls increase the risk of chest impact death. In contrast, an expert review determined that softer-than-standard baseballs can reduce head injuries.
Face Guards for Batting Helmets
In 1995, children received an estimated 3,900 hospital emergency-room-treated injuries to the face while at bat. Face guards attach to batting helmets to protect the face, including the eyes, nose, mouth, jaw, and cheeks.
The face guards currently on the market must be installed or attached to a batting helmet. They are made from clear polycarbonate plastic or plastic coated wire and retail for about $10. CPSC found that none of the injured players it studied received facial injuries while wearing batting helmets with face guards.
CPSC has determined that the current ASTM voluntary standard for face guards is effective in preventing facial injuries. According to the standard, the face guard must prevent the ball from touching the face. Although youth leagues generally require children to use batting helmets, only one league requires batting helmets with face guards.
Safety Release Bases
In 1995, sliding injuries accounted for about 13,000 hospital emergency-room-treated injuries or 8 percent of the total number of injuries to children playing baseball. Of these sliding injuries, about 8,200 or 63 percent were caused when children slid into the base with 80 percent or 6,600 of these base-contact sliding injuries occurring during organized play. Girls appear to be at a higher risk of injury from base-contact sliding injuries than boys.
CPSC studied several styles of modified safety bases to determine which would reduce the risk of injury from sliding into the base. For reducing the risk of sliding injuries, CPSC recommends one style of a safety base with the following characteristics: releases from its anchoring system upon impact; leaves no holes in the ground or parts of the base sticking up from the ground when the base is released. Since girls appear to be at higher risk, models based on age, gender, and skill levels of the players may provide the greatest level of protection.
The list price for a set of safety release bases ranges from $300 to $595 compared with $150 for a standard three-base set, although these safety bases tend to outlast regular bases. In addition, currently available safety release bases with the recommended characteristics require permanent installation in the ground.

  • Baseball protective equipment currently on the market may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of more than 58,000 injuries or almost 36 percent of an estimated 162,100 hospital emergency-room-treated, baseball-related injuries occurring to children each year.
  • Softer-than-standard balls may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of the 47,900 ball impact injuries to the head and neck.
  • Batting helmets with face guards may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of about 3,900 facial injuries occurring to batters in organized play.
  • Safety release bases that leave no holes in the ground or parts of the base sticking up from the ground when the base is released may prevent, reduce, or lessen the severity of the 6,600 base-contact sliding injuries occurring in organized play.

1. Viano, D.C., McCleary, J.D., Andrzejak, D.V., and D.H. Janda, "Analysis and Comparison of Head Impacts Using Baseballs of Various Hardness and a Hybrid III Dummy", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 3: 217-228, 1993.
2. Janda, D.H., Wojtys, E.M., Hankin, F.M., and M.E. Benedict, "Softball Sliding Injuries: A Prospective Study Comparing Standard and Modified Bases", Journal of the American Medical Association 259: 1848-1850, 1988.
3. Sendre, R.A., Keating, T.M., Hornak, J.E., and P.A. Newitt, "Use of the Hollywood Impact Base and Standard Stationary Base to Reduce Sliding and Base-Running Injuries in Baseball and Softball", American Journal of Sports Medicine 22: 450-453, 1994.
4. Viano D.C., Andrzejak, D.V., and A.I. King, "Fatal Chest Injury by Baseball Impact in Children: A Brief Review", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 2: 161-165, 1992.
5. Viano, D.C., Andrzejak, D.V., Polley, T.Z., and A.I. King, "Mechanism of Fatal Chest Injury by Baseball Impact: Development of an Experimental Model", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 2: 166-171, 1992.
6. Janda, D.H., Viano, D.C., Andrzejak, D.V., and R.N. Hensinger, "An Analysis of Preventive Methods for Baseball-Induced Chest Impact Injuries", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 2: 172-179, 1992.
7. Estes, N.A.M., "Sudden Death in Young Athletes (editorial)", New England Journal of Medicine 333: 380-381, 1995.
8. Maron, B.J., Poliac, L.C., Kaplan, J.A., and F.O. Mueller, "Blunt Impact to the Chest Leading to Sudden Death from Cardiac Arrest During Sports Activities", New England Journal of Medicine 333: 337-341, 1995.

Lyle J. Micheli, M.D., Director, Sports Medicine, The Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115; (617) 355-6534
Barry J. Maron, M.D., Director, Cardiovascular Research Division, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, 920 East 28th St., Suite 40, Minneapolis, MN 55407-3984; (612) 863-3996/3984
Flaura Winston, M.D., Ph.D., The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th Street & Civic Center Blvd., Room 2426, Philadelphia, PA 19104; (215) 590-5208
Christine Branche-Dorsey, Ph.D., Epidemiologist, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Chamblee, GA 30341;
(770) 488-4652


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



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by Lisa Carter and Lori Marques

Each year, more than 125,000 baseball and softball players under age 15 are injured badly enough to seek treatment in hospital emergency departments. Hundreds of thousands of adults receive minor injuries in these sports. Many of the injuries can be prevented if players wear safety gear and if additional safety measures are added to the game.Bike crashes can result in serious injury. In 1997, more than half a million persons were injured badly enough to need emergency department care as a result of bike crashes in the United States. Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of brain injury from a bike crash by as much as 88%.

Tips for Preventing Baseball and Softball Injuries
To help your child avoid injuries while playing baseball or softball, follow these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other sports and health organizations. (Note: These tips apply to adult ball players, too.)
  • Before your child starts a training program or plays competitive baseball or softball, take him or her to the doctor for a physical exam. The doctor can help assess any special injury risks your child may have.
  • Make sure your child wears all the required safety gear every time he or she plays and practices. Insist that your child wear a helmet when batting, waiting to bat, or running the bases. Helmets should have eye protectors, either safety goggles or face guards. Shoes with molded cleats are recommended (most youth leagues prohibit the use of steel spikes). If your child is a catcher, he or she will need additional safety gear: catcher's mitt, face mask, throat guard, long-model chest protector, and shin guards.
  • If your child is a pitcher, make sure pitching time is limited. Little League mandates time limits and requires rest periods for young pitchers.
  • Insist that your child warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Teach your child not to play through pain. If your child gets injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor's orders for recovery, and get the doctor's OK before your child returns to play.
  • Make sure first aid is available at all games and practices.
  • Talk to and watch your child=s coach. Coaches should enforce all the rules of the game, encourage safe play, and understand the special injury risks that young players face. Make sure your child's coach teaches players how to avoid injury when sliding (prohibits headfirst sliding in young players), pitching, or dodging a ball pitched directly at them.
  • Above all, keep baseball and softball fun. Putting too much focus on winning can make your child push too hard and risk injury.
Encourage your league to use breakaway bases. These bases, which detach when someone slides into them, can prevent many ankle and knee injuries in both children and adults. Leagues with players 10 years old and under should alter the rules of the game to include the use of adult pitchers or batting tees. Remember, you don't have to be on a baseball diamond to get hurt. Make sure your child wears safety gear and follows safety rules during informal baseball and softball games, too.

Who Is Affected?
In the United States, more than 33 million people participate in organized baseball and softball leagues. Nearly 6 million of these players are 5 to 14 years old. Even though these sports are not considered contact sports, they are associated with a large number of injuries. Hospital emergency departments treat more than 95,000 baseball-related injuries and 30,000 softball-related injuries among players under age 15 each year. The number of injuries among adults is also high, with as many as 8 percent of players sustaining injuries each year.
The majority of injuries in baseball and softball are minor, consisting mostly of abrasions (scrapes), sprains, strains, and fractures. Many of these injuries are to the ankle and knee. Eye injuries are also common in baseball. In fact, baseball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in children. Catastrophic injuries in baseball and softball are rare. They occur most often when players are struck in the head or chest with a ball or a bat. On average, 3 children under age 15 die each year from baseball-related injuries.
Baseball can lead to injuries caused by overusing a certain body part. Pitchers commonly suffer overuse injuries in their elbows or shoulders. As many as 45 percent of pitchers under age 12 have chronic elbow pain, and among high school pitchers, the percentage rises to 58 percent. To prevent these injuries, Little League Baseball, Inc., has set a limit of six innings of pitching per week and requires pitchers to rest between appearances. Teaching proper pitching mechanics can also prevent serious overuse injuries.
Helmets and safety equipment for catchers have brought about reductions in injuries. Little League Rule 1.7 says, A Catcher's helmet must meet NOCSAE specifications and standards.@ Other safety gear has been added more recently, including eye protectors and face masks on helmets. Chest protectors and softer balls are also being studied for their protective effect.
Making changes to the playing field and the rules of the game can also prevent injuries. Sliding into the base causes more than 70 percent of recreational softball injuries and nearly one-third of baseball injuries. Using bases that break away upon impact can prevent 1.7 million injuries per year. Adding screens or fencing to the dugout and eliminating the on-deck circle protects players from wild pitches, foul balls, and flying bats.

Safety Resources
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Through the public information link on the AAOS home page (www.aaos.org), you can access fact sheets on injury prevention for many popular sports, including baseball. AAOS's phone number is 1-800-346-2267.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
Review AAP's policy statement, A Risk of Injuries from Baseball and Softball in Children 5 to 14 Years of Age @ (www.aap.org/policy/00161.html). AAP's phone number is 847-228-5097.
  • American Red Cross
If you coach a youth sports team, get advice from the American Red Cross on conditioning young athletes (http://www.crossnet.org/news/inthnews/98/05-09-98.html). ARC's phone number is 703-248-4222.
  • Brain Injury Association
BIA's fact sheet about sports and concussion safety (www.biausa.org/sportsfs.htm) provides data on brain injuries for several sports, including baseball. Call BIA at 1-800-444-6443.
  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
The Summer 1996 issue of CPSC's Consumer Product Safety Review (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/cpsr_nws1.pdf) featured an article on reducing baseball injuries with protective equipment. CPSC's phone number is 1-800-638-2772.
  • Little League Baseball, Inc.
Link to the Little League home page (www.littleleague.org) to access facts on health and safety.
  • National SAFE KIDS Campaign
Visit the SAFE KIDS home page (www.safekids.org) to access fact sheets on sports and recreation injuries, or call 202-662-0600.

The data and safety tips in this fact sheet were obtained from the following sources:
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Baseball. Available at http://www.aaos.org/wordhtml/pat_educ/baseball.htm. Accessed July 8, 1999.
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Seminar (Sullivan J, Grana W, editors). The Pediatric Athlete. Park Ridge, IL: The Academy, 1990:141,149-151,259.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Risk of injury from baseball and softball in children 5 to 14 years of age. Pediatrics 1994;93(4):690-692.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Sports Medicine: Health care for young athletes. Elk Grove Village, IL: The Academy, 1991:148-150.
  • American Red Cross. Red Cross gears up to help prevent sports injuries this spring: coaches advised on proper conditioning of young athletes. News release, May 7, 1998. Available at http://www.crossnet.org/news/inthnews/98/05-09-98.html. Accessed July 6, 1999.
  • Caine D, Caine C, Lindner K, editors. Epidemiology of Sports Injuries. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1996:63-85.
CDC. Sliding-associated injuries in college and professional baseball B1990-1991. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1993;42(12):223,229-230.
  • Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine. Softball injuries: Phase I of a study on the costs, causes and prevention of recreational softball injuries. Available at http://users.aol.com/wwwipsm/pubs/softball_I.html. Accessed July 7, 1999.
  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Baseball safety. CPSC publication #329. Washington, DC: The Commission.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Reducing youth baseball injuries with protective equipment. Consumer Product Safety Review 1996;1(1):1-4.

Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit them at http://www.cdc.gov
This page last updated by the CDC on September 16, 1999



Getting to the Heart of the Softer-Baseball Debate
Softer baseballs are used in an effort to reduce the severity of impact injuries to the brain, face, and heart, but debate on their efficacy, along with hesitance within baseball, has hindered their widespread adoption.
Recent reports on baseball impact injuries bring the issues into sharper clinical focus, including new information about the etiology of commotio cordis and conflicting reports about whether softer baseballs reduce the risk of that event. Another study addresses the risk of eye injuries with softer baseballs (see "Researchers Weigh In on Eye Issues, below).
Lance Van Auken, director of publications and media relations for Little League Baseball, says several models of softer baseballs are approved for play in various Little League divisions. Each local league's board of directors determines which balls the league will use. "We do know that a majority of the very youngest divisions [5- to 8-year-olds] use some type of softer baseballs. However, in the divisions that include players ages 9 to 18, the softer baseballs are rarely used," he says.
New Information on Commotio Cordis
Commotio cordis, sudden death from relatively minor chest wall impact in the absence of structural cardiac injury or abnormality, is rare in sports. Each year two to four commotio cordis deaths are reported in baseball (1). Maron et al (2) recently published information on 70 cases contained in the US Commotio Cordis Registry. The victims were most likely to be boys younger than 16, and the most common sports involved were baseball, softball, and hockey.
In 1998, Link et al (3) narrowed the proposed mechanism of commotio cordis by showing that impacts that occurred 30 to 15 msec before the peak of the T wave produced ventricular fibrillation in young pigs.
In a separate report, Link et al (4) described the high frequency of heart block and ST-segment elevation after resuscitation, which may explain why resuscitation is often difficult in patients with commotio cordis.
Do Softer Baseballs Reduce the Risk of Commotio Cordis?
In 1992, Janda and colleagues (5,6), using a computerized model, anesthetized pigs, and crash test dummies, suggested that softer baseballs did not decrease and perhaps increased the risk of commotio cordis. In their most recent study (7), Janda's group assessed 9 soft-core baseballs as they struck a three-rib biomechanical surrogate at three speeds (40, 50, and 60 mph). A standard Major League baseball served as a control. Janda says the study determined the "viscous criterion" (VC) for each baseball. VC was developed by the automotive industry during crash testing to measure how far and how fast the chest caves in during impact, says Janda, an orthopedic surgeon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and director of the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine (ISPM). Baseballs with higher VC values could carry a greater injury risk.
The study found that one of the softer baseballs had a significantly lower VC value than the standard baseball at all three speeds, six had a lower VC at 60 mph, four had a lower VC at 50 mph, and one had a lower VC at 40 mph. One of the softer baseballs had a higher VC at 60 mph. The researchers say the study shows that not all softer baseballs significantly reduce the risk of chest impact injuries. "We also determined that the weight of the ball was critically important," Janda says. The two lightest baseballs were among the group that had a significantly lower VC. (The standard baseball was the fourth lightest baseball.)
In a 1996 review of protective equipment in youth baseball (8), the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) analyzed the impact of softer baseballs. The type of baseball involved was recorded in 94% of 88,700 baseball impact injuries recorded in 1995. The CPSC reported that the softer baseballs were involved in fewer and less severe injuries than were the standard baseballs. In its discussion of the apparently contradictory studies (5,6) from Janda's group, the CPSC notes that it commissioned an independent review of the articles by six scientific and medical experts. The reviewers questioned the ability of the biological and biomechanical models to mimic chest impact injuries in children. The CPSC concluded that softer baseballs can reduce the number and severity of youth baseball injuries.
Meanwhile, Link et al (3) also evaluated the effect of softer baseballs as a component of their pig study. They tested three softer balls and a standard Little League baseball on 48 pigs, timing impacts to occur with the up slope of the T wave. Each ball weighed the same and was propelled at 30 mph.
Researchers noted a relationship between baseball hardness and the likelihood of ventricular fibrillation. The lowest risk was for the softest baseball; although a reduced risk of death was seen with medium-soft and least-soft baseballs, the difference did not reach statistical significance. The authors concluded that though the softest baseball may not be practical for competitive play by older youths because of ball performance, it may be useful for T-ball or recreational play.
Link and Janda are critical of each other's studies. Link says that Janda's most recent study (7) deemphasizes the finding that the balls used in T-ball were safer. He also notes that the 1998 Janda study (7) evaluates both weight and softness, which obscures the qualities that make a ball safer. "The data with safety baseballs in both our and Janda's experiments show there is little doubt that safety baseballs will reduce the risk of both cardiac and other injuries in youth baseball," says Link, who is assistant professor of medicine and director of the Cardiovascular Center for the Evaluation of Athletes at New England Medical Center in Boston.
Janda says the 30-mph speed used by the Link group is slower than actual Little League play, particularly when kids are using aluminum or titanium bats. Link counters that his group's latest study (9) yielded the same results using a 40-mph velocity. Janda also notes that his group looked at nine baseball models, whereas Link's group evaluated three.
Link says he is concerned that the public's perception of Janda's studies could lead to underutilization of the softer baseballs, which he believes could increase the risk of sudden death and other injuries.
J.J. Crisco, PhD, research director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), says part of the problem with interpreting the data about softer baseballs and developing standards for protective equipment is that the dynamics of chest impact injuries are more complicated than for head injuries or muscle contusions. "We know why softer baseballs decrease those injuries: accelerators and stress. But we don't yet have a mechanical variable to decrease for commotio cordis," he says.
There is no widely accepted standard for baseball hardness, though Crisco notes that the American Society for Testing and Materials is working on proposed standards. He adds that the baseballs used in Little League—made from cheaper materials—have been found to be harder than those used in Major League Baseball. NOCSAE has published a voluntary standard for baseballs that are designed to reduce head injuries. Crisco says the group is presently updating the standard to address a greater spectrum of injuries, including commotio cordis.
What's the Prevention Message?
Though Janda and Link disagree on the safety of softer baseballs, they do agree that the devices are not magic bullets for preventing commotio cordis and that good coaching can help young players avoid baseball impact injuries.
"We believe kids should be taught how to get out of the way," Janda says. "I've heard eyewitness reports of kids panicking and walking right into the ball, but if you watch Cal Ripken, he tucks his head and rolls his shoulder so that his scapula takes the blow." He says that kids also need to learn how to avoid chest impact injuries by sliding into base with their back toward the catcher. Janda says some recreational leagues seek to avoid baseball impact injuries among younger players by having the coach of the batting team do the pitching; a few use mechanical pitching machines.
The research jury is still out on how well chest protectors prevent chest impact injuries. Eleven (16%) of the players in the US Commotio Cordis Registry were wearing commercially available protective gear when the incidents occurred. Janda says the ISPM is conducting a study on chest protectors.
Van Auken says that Little League Baseball is in the third year of a 3-year study to determine the protective value of equipment (ie, softer baseballs, batting vests, face masks, breakaway bases) used by various divisions.
1.    Kyle SB: Youth Baseball Protective Equipment Project: Final Report. Washington, DC, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1996
2.    Maron BJ, Link MS, Wang PJ, et al: Clinical profile of commotio cordis: an under appreciated cause of sudden death in the young during sports and other activities. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol 1999;10(1):114-120
3.    Link MS, Wang PJ, Pandian NG, et al: An experimental model of sudden death due to low-energy chest-wall impact (commotio cordis). N Engl J Med 1998;338(25):1805-1811
4.    Link MS, Wang PJ, Pandian NG, et al: Resuscitation in a biological model of commotio cordis, sudden death from low energy chest wall impact, abstracted. J Am Coll Cardiol 1998;31(2):403A
5.    Janda DH, Viano DC, Andrzejak DV, et al: An analysis of preventive methods for baseball-induced chest impact injuries, abstract. Clin J Sport Med 1992;2(3):172-179
6.    Viano DC, Andrzejak DV: Mechanism of fatal chest injury by baseball impact: development of an experimental model. Clin J Sport Med 1992;2(3):166-171
7.    Janda DH, Bir CA, Viano DC, et al: Blunt chest impacts: assessing the relative risk of fatal cardiac injury from various baseballs. J Trauma 1998;44(2):298-303
8.    Kyle SB, Adler P, Monticone RC Jr: Reducing youth baseball injuries with protective equipment. Consumer Prod Safety Rev 1996;1(1):1-4
9.    Link MS, Wang PJ, VanderBrink BA, et al: Reduced risk of death with safety balls in an experimental model of commotio cordis: sudden death from low energy chest wall impact, abstracted. J Am Coll Cardiol 1999;33(2):534A

Researchers Weigh In on Eye Issues
Baseball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in children aged 5 to 14 (1,2). One of the concerns among physicians and coaches has been that a softer baseball could increase the risk of eye injury because the softer material might protrude farther into the eye orbit.
To investigate those suspicions, a recent investigation by Vinger et al (1) had two objectives: (1) to measure the intrusion of baseballs of 6 different hardnesses launched at several speeds into an artificial eye orbit, and (2) to determine if baseball players could tell the difference between harder and softer balls when catching, throwing, and batting.
Researchers found that the softest of the six baseballs intruded significantly into the orbit, and recommended that this ball be used only among players younger than age 6 who have little grip strength. They found that orbital intrusions of the next two softest balls were not clinically meaningful and, because they had a lesser peak force and onset rate than Major League baseballs, should not cause an increase in eye injuries.
When the researchers evaluated whether softer baseballs changed the feel of the game for participants, they found that children younger than age 14 could detect a difference only when using the softest baseball and that adults could not differentiate between the hardest "soft" baseball and standard baseballs.
While advocating the use of softer baseballs in youth baseball to prevent brain injury and commotio cordis, the researchers note the best way to decrease eye injuries in baseball is to use protective eyewear that conforms to American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for batters, base runners, and fielders.
1.    Vinger PF, Duma SM, Crandall J: Baseball hardness as a risk factor for eye injuries. Arch Ophthalmol 1999;117(3):354-358
2.    Kyle SB: Youth Baseball Protective Equipment Project: Final Report. Washington, DC, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1996

Lisa Schnirring
University of Minnesota – Publich Health Article – Injury Prevention - 2004

Sports participation is on the rise for children and adolescents in the United States. Each year, more than 20 million American youth participate in school or community sports (Damore). This results in approximately one million serious sports-related injuries occurring annually, requiring hospitalization, surgery, missed school, or at least a half-day in bed (School Health Guidelines to Prevent Unintentional Injuries and Violence). The social, as well as economic consequences related to sports injury incidents are quite substantial, and are estimated to cost thousands of millions of dollars in the U.S. each year (Kelm).
In a recent study, sports-related injuries accounted for 41 percent of musculoskeletal injury treated in emergency rooms in 5 to 21 year olds (Damore). As shown in Table 1, basketball accounts for the most sports-related injuries, followed by football, and then baseball and softball
Table 1.
Table 2 shows that the most sports-related injuries occur in early adolescence, with 13-year old children experiencing the highest number of sports-related injuries. These children and adolescents are anatomically, physiologically, and psychologically immature, which may make their bodies more susceptible to damage (Franklin).

Table 2 Sports-related injury distribution by age.
Source: Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, March/April 2001

Types of Injuries

There are many different types of sports-related injuries, from mild events to severe and life-threatening incidents. Although brain and spinal injuries are the most serious sports-related injuries, they account for relatively small percentages of the total injuries reported. According to a study by Michigan State University, in boys’ baseball and girls’ softball, forearm, wrist, and hand injuries were the most common type of injuries, with head, neck, and spine injuries accounting for 2-3% of all injuries. Ankle and foot injuries were the most frequent type of injuries in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Football players had the highest prevalence of head, neck, and spine injuries at 13.3% of the total injury problem (Powell 282).

In order to decrease the frequency and incidence of these and all types of sports-related injuries, we must first understand the nature of these events.
  • Overstretching and stress to a ligament is called a sprain.
  • Ligament damage is most common in sports, such as basketball, football, and soccer, where there is a high frequency of twisting and cutting movements.
  • Sprains and tearing of ligaments are some of the more common injuries in adolescent and adult athletes
  • Sprains occur less frequently in younger athletes because their epiphyseal plates tend to be the “weak link” in an injury event.
  • Joint dislocations are the most severe form of ligament damage, and can lead to long-term disability in the child athlete (Hutchinson).
  • A strain is damage to the muscle, as a result of forceful contraction.
  • Common strains resulting from sports injuries occur in the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.
  • Children and adolescents who have recently gone through a growth spurt are at higher risk of suffering from a tprain (Hutchinson).
  • Fractures are usually a result of acute mechanical overload.
  • The incidence of fractures is significantly higher in collision activities.
  • The growth plate in the developing tissues of long bones is affected in 15% of all pediatric fractures with 15% of these injuries leading to growth arrest requiring surgery (Oeppen).
  • Stress fractures, caused by excessive exercise without proper rest time, occur most commonly in the tibia, fibula, and tarsal bones.
Overuse Injuries
  • All types of overuse injuries are becoming more prevalent in young athletes.
  • Competitive year-round participation and specialization in one sport can lead to these chronic injuries to young bodies.
  • Damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments commonly occur in the shoulder and elbow in sports involving throwing, whereas running and jumping sports may cause injuries to the leg, knee, ankle, or foot.
  • Baseball, basketball, running, gymnastics, and swimming are the most common sports cited for contributing to overuse injuries (Sports Injuries a Growing Problem in Kids).
Brain Injuries
  • Annually, approximately 300,000 mild to traumatic brain injuries are classified as sports-related (School Health Guidelines to Prevent Unintentional Injury and Violence).
  • Twenty percent of all high school football players sustain brain injuries (Head Injury Fact Sheet).
  • When an individual has a brain injury, depending on the severity, it may result in a concussion or a coma.
  • A concussion results from shaking the brain within the skull, and usually results in a short loss in consciousness (Head Injury Fact Sheet).
  • Concussions are graded according to severity, which is a helpful tool in providing safe guidelines to return to activity.
    • Grade I
      • Usually no loss of consciousness
      • Return to play after one week if asymptomatic
    • Grade II
      • Unconscious for < 5 minutes
      • Return to play after one week if asymptomatic
    • Grade III
      • Unconscious for > 5 minutes
      • Memory loss for more than 24 hours
      • Return to play after one month or longer
  • Repeated Concussions
    • “Second Impact Syndrome” increases likelihood of permanent brain damage
  • Comas are a much more severe brain injury than concussions.
  • A coma is a deep state of unconsciousness, where the individual will not respond to stimuli.
  • Recovery from a coma usually takes a long period of time and may result in permanent impairments.
Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Approximately 55 percent of all spinal cord injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • 8 percent result from sports injuries (UA National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center)
  • When the chin is flexed as little as 30 degrees, causing the natural curve of the neck to significantly lessen, the forces on the top of the head are directly transmitted to the cervical vertebrae.
  • Football players using the tops of their helmets to “spear” opponents are at high risk for serious cervical spine injury (Lawrence).
  • Athletes should be instructed to block and tackle with the head up to reduce the risk of head and spinal injuries.
Although only a small percentage of sports injuries involve the spinal cord, their significance should not be taken overlooked. These incidents may result in life-long paralysis or death. Spinal cord injured individuals are have an average hospitalization of 16 days, followed by stay in a rehabilitation unit for approximately 44 days (UA National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center).

Heat Stress Injuries
  • From 1995 through the 2002 football season there have been 15 high school heat stroke deaths in football (Heat Stress and Athletic Participation).
  • Heat injuries are classified from the least dangerous heat cramps, to heat exhaustion, to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Children thermoregulate effectively in normal weather conditions with rehydration and proper clothing, but have a decreased ability to adapt to temperature extremes.
  • Children acclimate to heat more slowly and show less heat dissipation than adults in a hot environment because of a lower sweat rate.
  • Cold temperatures are another cause for concern, as the high surface area-to-body mass ratio can cause excessive heat loss, increasing the risk of hypothermia (Franklin 222).
  • Games and practices should be suspended, delayed, or postponed during extreme weather conditions to prevent heat related injury and illness (Gerberich).

Prevention/Control Strategies

When developing injury prevention and control approaches, it is best to use a variety of methods. William Haddon Jr. developed ten technical strategies for controlling injuries (Robertson 16-19). Strategies one, four, six, eight, nine, and ten work particularly well in prevention and control on sports-related injuries in children and adolescents.

1. Prevent the creation of the hazard in the first place.

One way this can be accomplished is through pre-participation physical examinations, which should include screenings for neurological and cardiovascular disorders (Gerberich). By identifying individuals with congenital and other existing health problems, serious health incidents could be avoided.

Another way to prevent hazards is to reduce aggressive physical contact. Intentional spearing in football should be strongly discouraged by coaches and officials and blocking below the waist should be minimized in practice. Body checking in youth hockey has been shown to account for 86% of all injuries that occurred during games (American Academy of Pediatrics). Limiting checking in younger players and enforcing rules in all ages of players, such as lengthy penalties for pushing or checking from behind, can reduce injuries. Coaches should emphasize good sportsmanship and fair play at all times.

4. Modify the rate or spacial distribution of release of the hazard

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, injury risks can be significantly decreased by ensuring athletes are matched by size, maturation, or skill level (222). If competitors have large differences in speed and strength, the rate of injury may increase dramatically based on the applied forces and acceleration. A recent US study on youth hockey injuries found that size differences among the bantam players ages 14 and 15 had body weight variances of 53 kg from the smallest to largest players and also differed in a height of 55 cm (American Academy of Pediatrics).

6. Separate the hazard and that which is to be protected by interposition of a material barrier.

Effective prevention strategies for youth athletes may includes properly fitted helmets, face shields, pads, mouth guards, and other protective properly fitting equipment.

Source: Parmet: JAMA, Volume 289(5).February 5, 2003.652

8. Make what is to be protected more resistant to damage from the hazard.

By ensuring proper skills development, a number of sports injuries may be avoided. According to the chart below, motor skills cause the majority of injuries in young athletes. Coaches should ensure that athletes have learned skills involved in sports-specific tasks before moving on to more advanced motor movements.
Reasons for Injuries

Source: Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, March/April 2001

Another way to make young athletes more resistant to injury events is to have them participate in an overall fitness program, including muscular strength and endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, and flexibility. By training and strengthening the entire body, imbalances may be identified and remedied.

9. Begin to counter the damage already done by the environmental hazard.

Injured athletes should seek prompt medical care where a licensed physician can assess the damage. Athletes should then rest until sufficient healing has taken place before returning to play.

10. Stabilize, repair, and rehabilitate the object of the damage.

Proper rehabilitative care should be provided to the injured athlete. Also, a physician may prescribe the use of a stabilization device, such as a knee brace or ankle brace.

Haddon’s Matrix
Another method of injury prevention and control developed by William Haddon Jr. is known as Haddon’s Matrix. This can serve as a guide to realizing the factors contributing to injuries and their severity, as well as the timing of these factors. As shown in the table below, there are many different factors involved in controlling injuries.
Vehicles & Equipment
Physical Environment
SocioEconomic Environment
Pre-Injury Phase
*Train athletes properly on following rules and playing safely.
*New skills should be mastered before moving on and learning more.
*Ensure athletes have adequate and properly fitting safety equipment.
*Encourage less physical play in practice.
*Make sure playing surfaces are safe.
*Check weather, i.e. temperature, humidity, storm conditions
*Athletic trainer or physician should be at all practices and games. If this is not possible, coaches should devise emergency response procedures.
Injury Phase
*Ensure players do not exceed abilities and fitness level.
*Emphasize fair play and following rules.
*Athletes must wear protective equipment.
*Athletes must always be supervised in practice.
*Emergency response system ready, i.e. phone, first aid equipment, etc.
Post-Injury Phase
*Give prompt and appropriate first aid.
*First aid kit utilized.
*Athlete should seek prompt medical care.
*Athlete should participate in physical therapy or other means of rehabilitation.

There are many limitations to injury prevention and control in youth sports. Funding coaches, trainers, and proper safety equipment can be costly, but the long-term economic and physical consequences of injury may rationalize these expenses. I believe more research and education is needed in the area of the training and conditioning principles. For example, the long-term effects of repeatedly throwing a baseball from age 8 to age 18 may undoubtedly cause long term arm and shoulder pain. Strict guidelines in regards to use of safety equipment, as well as the frequency, intensity, and duration of competitive athletes’ conditioning programs may prove to nearly diminish these chronic injuries. Also, comprehensive education to the athletes, parents, coaches, and officials is needed to share the importance of injury prevention and control.
In conclusion, the growing number injuries in youth sports and recreational activities will only continue to rise as participation increases. Coaches, parents, athletes, and athletic trainers and physicians must work together to decrease the likelihood and seriousness of sports-related injuries. A multi-factoral approach must be used to combat the many issues involved in preventing the incidence and severity of sports-related injuries.


American Academy of Pediatrics. “Safety in Youth Hockey: The Effects of Body Checking.” Pediatrics 105.3 (March 2000): 657-658.

Cantu, RC and LJ Micheli, eds. ACSM’s Guidelnes for the Team Physician. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1991.

Damore, Dorothy T. and Jordan Metzl et al. “Patterns in Childhood Sports Injury.” Pediatric Emergency Care 19.2 (April 2003): 65-67.

Franklin, Barry A., and Mitchell H Whaley, eds. et.al. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 6th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.

Gerberich, Susan Goodwin. “Good Sports: Preventing Recreational Injuries.” Report of the Conference: Association of Trial Lawyers of America and John Hopkins Injury Prevention Center. 20 May 1992.

Guidelines from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. 2002. Accessed 25 April 2004. http://www.nata.org/publications/brochures/minimizingtherisks.htm.

Head Injury Fact Sheet. September 1999. Accessed 15 February 2004. http://www.neurosurgery.org/health/patient/answers.asp?DisorderID=50.

Heat Stress and Athletic Participation. 2003. Accessed 1 May 2004. http://www.nfhs.org/ScriptContent/VA_Custom/va_cm/contentpagedisplay.cfm?Content_
Hutchinson, Mark R and Rima Nasser. “Common Sports Injuries in Children and Adolescents.” 19 July 2000. Accessed 15 February 2004. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/408524_print.

“Injury Facts.” National Safety Council. (2003) 127.

Kelly, Karen D and Heather L Lissel, et al. “Sport and Recreation-Related Head Injuries Treated in the Emergency Department.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 11.3 (April 2001): 77-81.

Kelm, J and F. Ahlhelm, et al. “School Sports Accidents: Analysis of Causes, Modes, and Frequencies.” Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics 21.2 (March/April 2001): 165-168.

Lawrence, David W and Gregory W. Stewart, et al. “High School Football-Related Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries in Louisiana: The Athlete’s Perspective.” 1996. Accessed 29 April 2004. http://www.injurycontrol.org/states/la/football/football.htm.

Mueller, Frederick O. “Catastrophic Head Injuries in High School and Collegiate Sports.” Journal of Athletic Training 36.3 (2001): 312-315.

Oeppen, Rachel Suzanne and Diego Jaramillo. “Sports Injuries in the Young Athlete.” Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging 14.2 (April 2002): 199-208.

Parmet, Sharon and Cassio Lynm. “Baseball Safety for Children.” Journal of the American Medical Association 289.5 (5 February 2003): 652.

Powell, John W., and Kim D. Barber-Foss. “Injury Patterns in Selected High School Sports: A Review of the 1995-1997 Seasons.” Journal of Athletic Training 34.3 (1997): 277-284.

Robertson, Leon S. Injury Epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

School Health Guidelines to Prevent Unintentional Injury and Violence: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 7 December 2001. Accessed 15 February 2004. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5022a1.htm.

“Sports Injuries a Growing Problem in Kids.” USA Today. 18-20 October 2002: Kids Health Supplement.

The University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. “Facts You Should Know About Spinal Cord Injuries.” October 2003. Accessed 30 April 2004. www.christopherreeves.com.



Bay’s Concussion May Signal Need for Change in Mets’ Protocol
Published: August 15, 2010
When Mets outfielder Jason Bay ran full speed into the padded outfield wall at Dodger Stadium last month after catching a long fly ball, then crumpled to the ground, it appeared he had hit his head, face first, against the blue padding.
Bay lay motionless for an instant on the warning track. After he slowly got up, he said he told the Mets’ athletic trainer, Ray Ramirez, that he had injured his back and knee, but had not hit his head on the wall.
Based on that, Ramirez and the Mets’ medical staff did not give Bay a complete neurological examination to determine if he had sustained a concussion. They allowed him to remain in the game, and play the next two games.
It turned out that Bay did sustain a concussion, which a specialist in New York determined only after he returned home. It was not from the impact of his head hitting a wall, the doctor concluded, but from the trauma caused by his head snapping backward, causing whiplash.
In essence, his brain slammed against his skull, and the symptoms did not surface until two days later on the flight home.
Bay has not played in three weeks, and although he is improving and expected to recover, a concussion from whiplash can be severe enough to end a career. It did for Corey Koskie, a former Twins, Blue Jays and Brewers third baseman who retired after he sustained a similar injury in 2006.
“It was two and a half years of my own personal hell,” said Koskie, who eventually recovered from the symptoms, but by then was 36 and had been out of baseball too long to get back in.
As Bay waits at home for the symptoms to subside, the Mets appear to have learned a lesson from the episode and are expected to expand the conditions under which trainers will regularly check for neurological damage.
“We are looking into that,” the assistant general manager John Ricco said. “I think we will probably change the protocol so that if there is a serious impact, even if the head doesn’t hit something directly, it will be checked out.”
While Bay’s injury went undetected, he might have exacerbated it, according to Dr. David Hovda, the director of the U.C.L.A. Brain Injury Research Center, by continuing to play after it happened in the second inning of the Mets’ game against the Dodgers on July 23.
In the immediate aftermath of a concussion, the brain is particularly vulnerable to further injury, including from relatively minor events like quickly rotating the head.
“By playing again, he could have exposed the brain to a secondary injury, and that can make it worse,” Hovda said.
But according to Hovda, Ramirez was not remiss in declining to order a neurological exam given the information he received from the 31-year-old Bay at the time. The Mets do not allow their medical staff to speak to reporters, but Hovda assumes Ramirez followed the Mets’ standard procedure, and strongly agrees with Ricco that it should quickly change to allow for the possibility of a concussion from whiplash.
He said it would have taken a particularly diligent trainer to consider the possibility of a concussion even when the player said he did not hit his head, but he thought all teams should include that in their protocol.
“It’s almost inexcusable if it’s not already based on data we have had since 2000,” he said. “But it’s really unfair for the trainer to be responsible if they are told by the player that he didn’t hit his head, and he is following the S.O.P. In hindsight, yes, of course they should have checked him out. But at the time, there was no indication from the player that something happened.
“If I was the owner of a team, and I had a lot of money invested in this player, I would not take a chance. I would order a full neurological examination just to make sure.”
Two years ago, the Mets were criticized for their handling of outfielder Ryan Church’s concussion. Church was allowed to fly and play in Denver before the symptoms were gone, and they became worse. But Hovda said, referring to Bay, that there was no evidence cabin pressure from a flight had any effect on the severity of concussions.
He also noted that if Bay was still feeling the effects of the concussion three weeks on — including headaches, dizziness, nausea — he might continue to do so for another month, which would effectively end his season. Hovda said some of those symptoms could also be the result of a neck injury associated with the whiplash. Such an injury can affect the inner ear, causing vertigo, dizziness and vomiting.
That is what Koskie said he thought happened to him. On July 5, 2006, Koskie fell while chasing a pop-up. He hit his head slightly and stayed in the game, but was later removed. It was determined that it was not so much the impact of his head hitting the ground, but the whiplash that caused the concussion.
“It was awful,” he said. “I could barely move. I couldn’t be in the sun, I couldn’t get my heart rate over 110. Everything seemed strange. It was like I was watching my life through the lens of a video camera.”
Now the owner of two health club franchises in Minneapolis, Koskie said it was not just the concussion that caused his enduring symptoms, but also the neck injury. When he finally saw a specialist who did osteopathic manipulations of his neck, everything changed.
“I would wake up sometimes and I couldn’t feel one side of my body,” Koskie said. “I was told I had an anxiety disorder. You would feel pretty anxious, too, if you couldn’t feel one side of your body. People say brain, brain, brain. Yes, it’s that, but I think the neck and the upper cervical column was just as critical. I don’t have any medical evidence, but once they fixed that, I was fine.”
Arizona Little Leaguer Killed When Pitch Hits Chest
First Posted: 06/ 3/11 11:42 PM ET Updated: 06/ 4/11 09:56 PM ET
Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press
PHOENIX -- A 13-year-old Arizona boy was killed in a freak accident after a baseball hit him over the heart as he tried to bunt, officials in his Little League said Friday.
Hayden Walton went for the bunt during a game Tuesday night in the close-knit northern Arizona city of Winslow, said Jamey Jones, a Winslow Little League official.
"He took an inside pitch right in the chest," Jones said. "After that he took two steps to first base and collapsed."
He died the next morning at a local hospital.
The boy's parents, who were at the game, are heartbroken, shocked and unable to speak to members of the media, league president and family spokesman Dale Thomas said.
"It's a hard thing to handle for everyone," Thomas said. "When you're touched by something of this magnitude, it sends shock waves throughout the community."
Thomas said he grew up around the boy's family and described Hayden as "the epitome of what every little boy ought to be." Besides participating in Little League, Hayden was a Boy Scout, loved to work on cars and helped neighborhood widows by mowing their lawns and doing odd jobs for them, Thomas said.
He said Hayden had a younger sister.
The league suspended games until Friday and has counselors available for players or parents who need them.
Stephen Keener, president and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a statement that "the loss of a child is incomprehensible."
"Words cannot adequately express our sorrow on the passing of Hayden," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hayden's family, all the players and volunteers of the Winslow Little League, his classmates, and his friends, at this difficult time."
Youth Baseball Player Dies in Arizona
By Vincent Iannelli, M.D.June 4, 2011, About.com Guide  
There are a lot of sayings, some old, some new, that go along with playing baseball.
"There's no crying in baseball!" has been popular since the movie A League of Their Own.
That's likely going to be hard for the family and friends of a 13-year-old baseball player in Arizona who died the other day after getting hit in the chest with a pitch while attempting to lay down a bunt.
He took a few steps towards first base and collapsed. He died the next day at a local hospital.
I'd like to say there's no dying in baseball, especially as we head out to our own baseball games today, but unfortunately that's not true. Any kind of blunt, non-penetrating chest blow, such as a thrown baseball, can cause sudden death in some athletes. There is even a name for it - commotio cordis.
This type of sudden death isn't limited to baseball though, and it can also occur in, but isn't limited to softball, hockey, football, soccer, and competitive lacrosse players. It even occurs in players wearing chest protectors, but fortunately, these are all very rare events. When the ball or puck hits the child's chest, even when it is an innocent-appearing blow to the chest, it can trigger ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death in a child, who on average is about 14 years old.
Although still considered rare, commotio cordis is the second leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The leading cause of sudden death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congenital coronary-artery anomalies. The National Commotio Cordis Registry has recorded 224 cases of commotio cordis, in the past 15 years, 80 of which have been in kids and teens playing baseball.
About 25% of the cases of commotio cordis occur in kids who were playing a non-organized recreational sport at home or on the playground, etc.. Many cases, another 25%, are unrelated to sports, and have occurred, for example, when a playground swing hits a child in the chest.
Unfortunately, commotio cordis is usually fatal. For one thing, because the blow to the chest doesn't seem that serious, many bystanders don't think things are that serious when a child with commotio cordis collapses, which can delay the start of CPR. Also, few fields have a automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which can help restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
These events are always tragic. If you see a child get hit in the chest with a baseball and collapse, don't assume he got the wind knocked out of him. Call 911. And then rush over and see if you need to start CPR. If you don't know how, take a CPR class and learn.
Parents and coaches should also likely push for wider access to AEDs at organized athletic events. It may be too expensive to have a defibrillator at each and every youth baseball field or game, but larger fields, especially those that host a lot of tournaments, should certainly consider having an AED readily available.
Brandon Patch - Who was to Blame?
Brandon Patch was a young pitcher who was seriously injured during a game on July 23 2003, and sadly died later the same day from his injuries. The trial has taken a long time in coming to court. This is no ordinary trial in that there isn't an individual being charged; the defendant is the company who manufactured the aluminium bat which struck the ball which hit Brandon Patch in the head.
Brandon Patch's death was a tragedy, no one's arguing that, but was the design of the bat to blame? Brandon Patch's family say the bat is to blame for his death as it made the ball go faster and harder than normal. Brandon was on the mound and couldn't get out of the way in time, and was hit by a baseball travelling at 99.8 mph.
His team mates all testified that everything just happened way too fast for anyone to react. Was this the bat at fault, or just the nature of the sport? Baseball is dangerous, most sports are. There archives of newspapers are littered with tragic kids like Brandon patch, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid the ultimate price.
News that Brandon Patchs' family have received £850,000 in compensation has triggered a nationwide debate. Many have long believed aluminium bats to be dangerous and are now hoping they will be outlawed. Others think it's just a tragedy that has resulted in yet another compensation claim. You don't get the same velocity from a wooden bat, and a nationwide campaign has been started to revert to them.
It's a little known fact that between 1991 and 2001, 27 people died in the US from being hit by batted balls. All types of bats are involved in these deaths, not just aluminium. If anyone should have been sued it should surely have been the league for allowing these bats to be used in the first place.
Either way, whatever they decide, and whichever material they decide to make future bats from, it isn't going to bring Brandon Patch back.
Aluminum Bats Update
August 2, 2010 10:14 AM
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By Steve Kallas
Many of you who have listened to Rick Wolff’s “The Sports Edge” (Sunday mornings from 8-9 on WFAN) over the last few years are familiar with the cases of Steven Domalewski in New Jersey and Brandon Patch in Montana. Domalewski was severely injured by a ball hit off an aluminum bat in 2006; Brandon Patch died a few hours after being struck with a ball hit off an aluminum bat on July 25, 2003. The following is an update on where these two cases stand in the legal system.
Steven Domalewski was a 12-year-old pitching in a youth baseball game in Wayne, New Jersey, on June 6, 2006, when he was struck in the chest by a ball hit off an aluminum bat. His heart stopped and he couldn’t breathe for approximately 10-15 minutes. The commotion cordis condition caused brain damage to the point where he could not walk or talk and needed 24/7 care.
In May of 2008, The Domalewski family, by their attorney, Ernie Fronzuto of the New Jersey law firm of Wellinghorst & Fronzuto, filed a five-count lawsuit against, among others, Louisville Slugger (the maker of the bat), The Sports Authority (the seller of the bat) and Little League, Inc. (the organization that approved the bat for play). The suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Attorney Fronzuto spoke exclusively with WFAN.com this past week. When asked about Steven’s present-day condition, he said: “Steven has made some progress but has not improved significantly. He has taken some aided steps, but he still can’t talk or walk or feed himself. He continues to battle and, of course, has the full support of his family.”
When asked about the status of the case, which was filed over two years ago, Mr. Fronzuto stated: “We are proceeding with discovery. We have taken the deposition of five representatives of Hillerich & Bradsby [Louisville Slugger], and have started taking depositions of Little League, including that of Stephen Keener of Little League International. There is a conference this week in state court in New Jersey.”
When asked about the possible time of a trial, Mr. Fronzuto could only guestimate that it would be sometime at the end of 2011.
While one can only imagine what Steven and his family have gone through and are going through today and everyday, one can only hope that a resolution in this matter could take place prior to over five years after he was hit and three-and-a-half years after the lawsuit was filed. But the wheels of justice turn slowly. Hopefully, Steven Domalewski can improve with time. (For a more detailed view of the complaint, see Kallas Remarks, 5/25/08).
Many of you know that 18-year-old pitcher Brandon Patch was hit in the head by a ball off an aluminum bat during a youth baseball game in Miles City, Montana, on July 25, 2003. After seemingly gathering himself on the mound after being hit, Patch collapsed and died a few hours later at the hospital.
After failing to get a bill passed in Montana banning aluminum bats from youth baseball, the Patch family decided to file a lawsuit against Louisville Slugger, the maker of the aluminum bat used to hit the ball that killed Brandon Patch. In October of 2009, a state court jury in Helena, Montana found against Louisville Slugger and awarded $850,000 to the Patch family and the estate of Brandon Patch.
Louisville Slugger, which in 2002 lost a $150,000 federal lawsuit brought by pitcher Jeremy Brett and paid the verdict rather than appeal, has decided to appeal the jury verdict in the Patch case. One of the Patch family lawyers, Joe White, Jr., who was the trial attorney in the Brett case and one of the trial attorneys in the Patch case, spoke exclusively with WFAN.com to update the Patch appeal.
Mr. White stated: “The defendant [Louisville Slugger] had filed a motion for a new trial but that was denied. Now the defendant has filed its appellate brief before the Montana Supreme Court. We will file our response to their brief and then they will file a reply to our brief. Once all of the briefs have been served and filed, it usually takes somewhere in the vicinity of a year for the appeal to be heard. That should take us to the summer or fall of 2011.” (For more on the jury verdict, see Kallas Remarks, 10/28/09.)
It would be unusual for any court to overturn a jury verdict. The Patch family didn’t even want to file a lawsuit in this matter. They had tried to have a bill passed as law but, apparently, when push came to shove, the legislature would only pass a “resolution” suggesting that youth leagues in Montana use wood rather than the more dangerous metal. At this point, and with the public reaction to this across Montana and across the country, it would be hard to see a scenario where this jury verdict is overturned.
Having said that, you never know what will happen on appeal but the Patch family has made millions of parents aware of the issues, which have had reactions from New York City (banning metal bats from high school games) all the way to Marin County, California (where a similar ban is being proposed after 16-year-old Gunnar Sandberg was hit in the head earlier this year with a ball off an aluminum bat and put into a three-week coma after part of his skull was removed to save his life).
With awareness being spread nation-wide, hopefully the movement to ban these dangerous bats will spread across the country, making baseball (and softball) a safer sport to play on the baseball diamonds of America.
Steve Kallas is a New York City attorney who writes on sports and the law, youth sports and sports in general. More of his columns can be read at www.stevekallas.com.
WAYNE, N.J. - She wraps her arms around her son, gently raising the spindly 14-year-old boy off a couch to his feet. She hugs him and rubs his back, whispering "I love you'' over and over.
Steven Domalewski moves his head to kiss his mother, but all he can manage are slurping sounds in front of her lips. His head flops onto her shoulder, spent from the effort.
Less than two years ago, Domalewski was a happy, healthy star pitcher on a youth baseball team coached by his father. He loved martial arts, climbed every tree on the block and zoomed down his street on inline skates. He once shot an arrow into the wall of his basement rec room.
Now Domalewski is severely disabled, left with brain damage after being struck in the chest by a line drive that stopped his heart while he was playing in a youth baseball game.
His family plans to file a lawsuit Monday against the maker of the metal bat that was used in the game, against Little League Baseball and a sporting goods chain that sold the bat. The family contends metal baseball bats are inherently unsafe for youth games because the ball comes off them much faster than from wooden bats.
There has been a string of injuries the past two decades involving metal bats launching balls that have killed or maimed young players across the country. The Domalewskis' lawyer claims bat manufacturers put speed ahead of safety; one even advertised a bat so powerful it is capable of "beaning the third baseman'' with a line drive.
Attorney Ernest Fronzuto says Domalewski will needs millions of dollars worth of medical care for the rest of his life.
Other than the word "Yeah,'' which he repeats over and over, or "Dadada'' which he sometimes utters when he sees his father, Steven cannot speak. He also can't walk or stand on his own, and needs help with everything from using the bathroom to eating.
"My son is serving a sentence, and the only thing he did was pitch to an aluminum bat,'' said his father, Joseph Domalewski.
'It was just so fast'
Steven Domalewski's life changed forever on June 6, 2006, an overcast evening in which his Tomascovic Chargers were playing the Gensinger Motors team on the Wayne Police Athletic League field.
Domalewski was pitching, on the mound 45 feet from home plate. He wasn't a hard thrower, but he had excellent control. In the fourth inning, the first two batters reached base. He went to a full count on the third batter.
What happened next unfolded in a flash, but has resulted in an agonizing, slow-motion purgatory for Steven and his family.

The batter rocketed a shot off a 31-ounce metal bat. The ball slammed into Steven's chest, just above his heart, knocking him backward. He clutched his chest, then made a motion to reach for the ball on the ground to pick it up and throw to first base.
But he never made it that far. The ball had struck his chest at the precise millisecond between heartbeats, sending him into cardiac arrest, according to his doctors. He crumpled to the ground and stopped breathing.
His father, a school teacher who had been on the sideline, and a third base coach from the other team ran onto the field. Steven already was turning blue.
Someone yelled, "Call 911!'' Within 90 seconds, a man trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation who had been playing catch with his 9-year-old daughter jumped the fence and started to work on Steven.
Paramedics, who were a quarter-mile away doing a CPR demonstration, arrived within minutes. They placed an oxygen mask over Steven's face and rushed him to a hospital. But the damage had been done; his brain had been without oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes.
"Pretty much, he died,'' Joseph Domalewski said, wiping away tears. "It was just so fast. The thud, you could hear. When it hit him, that seemed to echo.''
Debate surrounds 'safer' bats
The lawsuit is to be filed in state Superior Court in Passaic County, naming Hillerich & Bradsby Co., maker of the Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat.

The suit also will name Little League Baseball and the Sports Authority, which sold the bat. It claims the defendants knew, or should have known, the bat was dangerous for children to use, according to the family's attorney.
Hillerich & Bradsby said Domalewski's injury, called commotio cordis, happens more often in baseball from thrown balls than batted ones.
"Our 124-year old, fifth-generation family-owned company never wants to see anyone injured playing baseball, the game we love,'' the company said in a statement. "But injuries do occur in sports. While unfortunate, these are accidents. We sympathize with Steven and his family, but our bat is not to blame for his injury.''
Stephen Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball, declined to comment on Domalewski's case, but said in a statement, "Little League will continue its strong commitment to player safety, and we feel our well-documented record of safety in youth baseball speaks for itself.''
On its Web site, Little League denied that metal bats are inherently riskier.
"Little League International does not accept the premise that the game will be safer if played exclusively with wood, simply because there are no facts — none at all — to support that premise,'' the organization wrote.
Representatives of The Sports Authority did not return repeated telephone messages.
Critics say metal bats too dangerous for Little League, youth sports
Steven Domalewski, center, sits with his parents, Joseph and Nancy, during an interview. Domalewski is severely disabled, left with brain damage after being struck in the chest by a line drive that stopped his heart while he was playing in a youth baseball game.
Why the switch to metal?
The suit touches on a hotly disputed issue that has been roiling youth and scholastic baseball programs for years.
In 2003, Brandon Patch, an 18-year-old pitcher for an American Legion team in Helena, Mont., was hit in the head by a line drive off an aluminum bat and died several hours later. In Pennsylvania, 15-year-old Donald Bennett was struck in the face by a line drive from a metal bat while pitching in a 2001 game, causing him to lose an eye.
New York City and North Dakota have banned metal bats for youth and school sports, and New Jersey is considering a similar ban.
Several states are studying the issue. Pennsylvania rejected a proposed ban, and Massachusetts did likewise last year — two months after a high school freshman throwing batting practice was hit in the head by a line drive that fractured his skull. He survived and is expected to make a full recovery.
The National Federation of State High School Associations lets its members choose whether to use metal or wood; most colleges use metal bats.
Metal bats are priced at as much as $300 but are considered more cost-effective than wood bats — which sell for under $100 — because they are far less likely to break and can last for years.
Domalewski was playing in a Police Athletic League game, but Little League was sued because the group certifies that specific metal bats are approved for — and safe for — use in games involving children.
Little League reached an agreement with the major manufacturers of metal bats in the early 1990s to limit the performance of metal bats to that of the best wooden bats. On its Web site, the league said injuries to its pitchers fell from 145 a year before the accord was reached to the current level of about 20 to 30 annually.
The league said that since it started keeping records in the 1960s, eight players were killed by batted balls, six of which were hit by wooden bats. The two metal bat fatalities occurred in 1971 and 1973, before the new standards were adopted. In 2002, the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission ruled that there was inconclusive data to support a ban on metal bats in youth and high school baseball games. Its own study found that from 1991 to 2001, there were 17 deaths nationwide because of batted balls — eight from metal, two from wood, and another seven of unknown origin.
Joseph and Nancy Domalewski pray that their son will return to what he was before the injury. But no doctor has told them that is likely.
"I miss my boy, the way he was,'' his mother said. "You can't take away our hope.''
"We describe our days as painful, and somewhat less painful,'' his father added. "Our hope is that he walks and talks and becomes a functioning member of society and has kids.''
The Domalewskis have purposely left unfixed the arrow hole that Steven made in the basement.
"We're saving that for him to spackle when he gets better,'' his father said.

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