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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.