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

 

 

NEWS ARTICLES
 
 
·       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?
 
BOSTON GLOBE ARTICLE – APRIL 22, 2007
 
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.
 
 
 
YOUTH BASEBALL COACHING – 2ND EDITION
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 - Monday, 23 July 2007,

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.

 

Bay’s Concussion May Signal Need for Change in Mets’ Protocol
By DAVID WALDSTEIN
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.
THE STEVEN DOMALEWSKI CASE
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).
THE BRANDON PATCH CASE
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.