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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bat maker found liable for player’s death ($850,000 award)

After 12 hours of deliberation, a jury sided with the parents of former Miles City American Legion baseball pitcher Brandon Patch in a civil suit over the player’s death during a 2003 game in Helena.

Aluminum bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby Co. failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of the bat used by a Helena Senators player during the game, at least eight of the 12 Lewis and Clark County jurors agreed Wednesday.

——

Attorneys for Hillerich & Bradsby Co. argued any other bat would not have hit the ball differently; in fact, they said, most bats on the market at the time would have struck the ball harder. Patch’s death was a tragic accident, they said. The defense lawyers declined comment after the verdict was read.

Baseballs hit with aluminum bats, such as the one used in that American Legion game, only give pitchers milliseconds to respond in a defensive stance, the plaintiffs said. Plaintiff’s attorney Joe White said the average time needed by a pitcher to defend a batted ball is 400 milliseconds. Patch had 378 milliseconds to respond, he said.

Eyewitnesses called by the plaintiffs said they could not see the ball between the time it left the bat and when it ricocheted off Patch’s head. Patch collapsed on the mound. He died as a result of his injuries about four hours later.


At least it’s the right time of year for scary bat stories.

Craig in MN Posted: October 29, 2009 at 03:18 PM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: amateur, high school

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   1. Run Joe Run Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3370299)
Very tragic story. Should pitchers in youth baseball (e.g., pre-high school) pitch behind a screen and with a helmet? You could create an additional area in front of the mound where bunts/batted balls would be ruled as dead. Any ball hit off the screen would be dead.
   2. bunyon Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:48 PM (#3370303)
Al bats should be banned. Don't know about the screen - you can't make it perfectly safe. But the bats are dangerous as hell.
   3. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:52 PM (#3370314)
Verdicts like this are more about 'making someone whole' than they are actually finding the Bat Manufacturer at fault. They've got deep pockets, so they lose the verdict, never mind the players avail themselves to the inherent and known dangers of playing baseball.
   4. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:54 PM (#3370318)
If girls have to wear some sort of weird helmet-mask construction for softball then I see no reason why boys can't do the same for baseball. I think it is crazy stupid to sue the bat company. TO me it seems like the angry bereaving parents just looked around for somebody to blame and so their lawyers found the one group that had pockets in all of this. Anyone else think they would have sued Rawlings if the bat was made by a bankrupt company?

"The ball was too hard and bouncy!"
   5. bunyon Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:56 PM (#3370322)
Lest anyone think otherwise, I don't think the bat maker is to blame, either. But Al bats should be banned.
   6. RJ in TO Posted: October 29, 2009 at 04:59 PM (#3370327)
Plaintiff’s attorney Joe White said the average time needed by a pitcher to defend a batted ball is 400 milliseconds. Patch had 378 milliseconds to respond, he said.


I'm curious as to how they determined with such precision the time that Patch had to respond, and how they determined the average time needed to defend a batted ball - from what I know, most home recording equipment doesn't have anywhere near a high enough frame rate to distinguish something to the millisecond level. It'd also be nice if they clarified what they meant by defend - is it get a glove in the way, or is it just the time needed to duck the ball?
   7. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3370331)
I do hate Al bats, wouldn't mind if they were banned, or a preferred solution, at least prohibited from use in league play.

From TFA: "We just want to save someone else's life" (adding, she hopes other players and parents will get adequate warnings about the dangers of aluminum bats.)

So the only options are to not play baseball, or ban aluminum bats. The existence and enhanced prominence of the risks of playing with aluminum bats cannot save a single life of a baseball player.
   8. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:07 PM (#3370340)
Well, if you know an aluminum bat is dangerous and you take steps to lower that risk, such as deadening the ball, the bat, or wearing protective gear then being made aware of the risks can save lives of baseball players.
   9. Run Joe Run Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:08 PM (#3370342)
One of the challenges in youth baseball is that you have some 12 year olds who can really smack the ball and other kids on the field... chasing butterlies. Sure the less athletic kids are less likely to pitch. I know it sounds crazy, but for kids, put up a pitching screen (even for wooden bats) and helmets. Remember when we forced kids to wear bike helmets? Seemed over zealous at the time, but it sure makes sense now.
   10. Jeff K. Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3370349)
I'm curious as to how they determined with such precision the time that Patch had to respond, and how they determined the average time needed to defend a batted ball - from what I know, most home recording equipment doesn't have anywhere near a high enough frame rate to distinguish something to the millisecond level.

I think this is somewhat of a red herring, the exact measurements. As noted, it sounds like H&B;argued that whatever the timing was, it was less than it would have been for most others, and yet they were still found negligent. But regardless, it looks like there are plentifully available HD camcorder options that can do 720p at 60 frames per second. That would allow you to get within 16.67 milliseconds.
   11. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:16 PM (#3370357)
Bike helmets? Oh, for riding bikes. I was confused there for a minute.

Bike Helmets! Y I nver where a bike helmit when I waz in skool + look at me Im find know prblems hear.


If I ever had a kid I have no real idea on how forceful I would be on the bike helmet. I guess it would depend on the misses, well, obviously it always depends on the mom, but personally it wouldn't be that big of a deal.
   12. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3370358)
Aluminum bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby Co. failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of the bat used by a Helena Senators player during the game.


So how long is this warning going to be, and how do you get it to fit on a baseball bat?

DB
   13. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:18 PM (#3370361)
The bogus "failure to warn" theory strikes again. Trial lawyers love it, because it rarely means anything, and unlike design-related claims, warnings can always be second guessed. There's obviously no way in this case that failure to warn had anything to do with anything; where's the causation?


Remember when we forced kids to wear bike helmets? Seemed over zealous at the time, but it sure makes sense now.
No, it still seems overzealous. (The phrase I would choose has several more expletives in it, but I'll use yours for now.)
   14. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:25 PM (#3370370)
Maybe the answer is a type of restricted-flight ball, like they use in softball leagues. Would a ball with more "give" still travel at the same speed off the bat? My complete lack of math and physics knowledge tells me it would be slower.
   15. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:29 PM (#3370373)
There's obviously no way in this case that failure to warn had anything to do with anything; where's the causation?


My old Civ-Pro Prof. used to mock Torts, he used to say you could teach it in four words "Duty, Breach, Causation, Damages."

I used to agree with that, I guess only one word is needed now, Damages.
   16. Run Joe Run Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:32 PM (#3370379)
Bike helmets on kids - i am completely fine with them. My two (6&3;) wear them and so do all there friends so it is not a big deal. And even with training wheels they have taken a few spills. Actually the bike helmet did save my three year old a head injury once - she was wearing it in the house, lost her balance and hit her (helmeted) head on the corner of a counter.
   17. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:40 PM (#3370389)
Did she lose her balance because she had the giant bike helmet on?
   18. JMPH Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:42 PM (#3370396)
Actually the bike helmet did save my three year old a head injury once - she was wearing it in the house, lost her balance and hit her (helmeted) head on the corner of a counter.

Wow, that's awesome that she was wearing it then.

Mark me down as being 100% fine with bike helmets as well. Especially when they're still learning to ride.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3370410)
One of the challenges in youth baseball is that you have some 12 year olds who can really smack the ball and other kids on the field... chasing butterlies. Sure the less athletic kids are less likely to pitch. I know it sounds crazy, but for kids, put up a pitching screen (even for wooden bats) and helmets. Remember when we forced kids to wear bike helmets? Seemed over zealous at the time, but it sure makes sense now.


My youngest son played his first season of baseball last year in an 8-and-under league (he was almost 7 at the time). Toward the end of the season, they replaced the pitching machine with kids pitching. Turns out, he's got a pretty good arm and was tabbed to start the first tournament game they played. The opponents had this monster of a kid, the kind that makes you want to see a birth certificate because it's hard to believe he's only 8. He rocketed a pitch right back up the box. I asked my son how close it came to him and he admitted he never saw it. Honestly, it's got me worried about him continuing pitching, particularly with the distance between home and the mound at the level he's currently playing.
   20. Jeff K. Posted: October 29, 2009 at 05:58 PM (#3370428)
Yeah, that's the thing. I pitched in Little League, and there is no ####### way a kid can react to a shot back up the middle. And we mostly used wooden bats. The distances are so short and the effect of decreased distance being geometric, at least, I've always been mildly wondrous that there isn't a story or two every year about kids like this.
   21. bookbook Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:13 PM (#3370459)
I believe they make an aluminum bat that claims to have the same properties as a wooden one. It hasn't gained much market acceptance, but it should. And quick.
   22. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:15 PM (#3370465)
The only time I pitched in Little League (I was a catcher nearly the whole time I played baseball) I got a liner up the middle right by my head -- I reflexively ducked & stuck up my bare hand and somehow caught it, but it got enough of my ear that it still hurt a day or two later.

Changing the bats or balls seems like the simplest thing -- as suggested above, that's what they do in slow-pitch softball, and though it doesn't fix everything, it helps a lot. I don't want to see kids having to wear helmets on the field.
   23. RJ in TO Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3370467)
I don't want to see kids having to wear helmets on the field.


The last thing we need is an entire generation of Oleruds. The concepts of base stealing and triples will vanish from the game.
   24. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:21 PM (#3370471)
No, it still seems overzealous. (The phrase I would choose has several more expletives in it, but I'll use yours for now.)


I haven't been paying attention for quite awhile now, but isn't it pretty much, y'know, understood that you're batshit insane on such topics? (Not saying I'm not, mind ...) The exec editor in Little Rock styles himself as a libertarian as well, & of course he's bug-eatingly crazy. A fellow city desk editor there & I decided years ago that the guy's 6-foot-tall invisible rabbit friend calls all the shots.
   25. rpackrat Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:22 PM (#3370476)
This is scary stuff. My 10 year old just started pitching this fall season. He has not had any close calls, but one of our other pitchers caught a hard line drive right back at him. The catch was pure reflex. He had no time to think about it.
   26. Esoteric Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:27 PM (#3370490)
The last thing we need is an entire generation of Oleruds. The concepts of base stealing and triples will vanish from the game.
Then you have to ban aluminum bats and just accept the fact that the vast majority of kids aren't going to be able to hit "for power" when they're that young.

The sick thing about this, of course, is that aluminum bats only exist as a Little League-ish institution because parents want to watch kids roughly replicating what adults can do at the plate, albeit on a miniature scale: home runs, long fly balls, doubles, etc. They don't want to see a bunch of squibbly grounders and humpback singles that you'd get with a heavier wooden bat -- it's boring! It's lame! (So goes the argument, I mean.) Thus the mainstreaming of aluminum bats -- which don't really do young players any favors developmentally either, I might add. But if so, then a few fatalities and brain injuries is the price adults have to be willing to pay if they want to force their youngest kids into playing an acceptable facsimile of the official game. Or else they're going to start having to put up screens, go to wooden bats, etc. I doubt the ball would ever be deadened.
   27. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:30 PM (#3370499)
Wasn't the reason LL went to aluminum bats was because it was supposedly cheaper than wooden bats? Just like we went to hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of saturated fats because it was healthier
   28. Shredder Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:32 PM (#3370504)
If the USGA can put a limit on drivers, than various baseball organizations ought to be able to put a limit on aluminum bats. I don't want to see them banned because I assume there are cost issues involved. Aluminum bats last a hell of a lot longer than most wooden bats (though perhaps at lower levels, pitchers don't break bats as easily).
   29. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3370508)
Yeah, that's the thing. I pitched in Little League, and there is no ####### way a kid can react to a shot back up the middle. And we mostly used wooden bats. The distances are so short and the effect of decreased distance being geometric, at least, I've always been mildly wondrous that there isn't a story or two every year about kids like this.
I don't disagree, but just in case there's any confusion, the specific case in TFA has nothing to do with "kids" or "Little League," but with an adult -- an 18 year old -- and American Legion.
   30. bunyon Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:35 PM (#3370511)
I, too, caught a ball at my face when I was ten. Still not sure how.


I'm all for child helmet laws. Mostly because kids are crazy and think they're immortal. Adults should be able to do what they like. Even though they're also crazy and stupid.


Why would you put this warning on the bat? The pitcher and fielders don't have the bat and the bat poses little risk to the batter. The warning should go on the ball: "WARNING: Do not throw this toward the strike zone of a batter holding an aluminum bat."
   31. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:37 PM (#3370514)
No, it still seems overzealous. (The phrase I would choose has several more expletives in it, but I'll use yours for now.)

I haven't been paying attention for quite awhile now, but isn't it pretty much, y'know, understood that you're batshit insane on such topics? (Not saying I'm not, mind ...) The exec editor in Little Rock styles himself as a libertarian as well, & of course he's bug-eatingly crazy. A fellow city desk editor there & I decided years ago that the guy's 6-foot-tall invisible rabbit friend calls all the shots.
Who knew bunnies were so pro-liberty?
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3370518)
Wasn't the reason LL went to aluminum bats was because it was supposedly cheaper than wooden bats? Just like we went to hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of saturated fats because it was healthier

If the USGA can put a limit on drivers, than various baseball organizations ought to be able to put a limit on aluminum bats. I don't want to see them banned because I assume there are cost issues involved. Aluminum bats last a hell of a lot longer than most wooden bats (though perhaps at lower levels, pitchers don't break bats as easily).


Yes, it was primarily a cost issue why aluminum replaced wood. And it should be understood that when the bats were first introduced, they were actually aluminum, dented easily and while there was a bit of a spring effect, it wasn't nearly as pronounced as you find with the composite material models of today. It wasn't (at least in my leagues) until the Easton Company really started engineering their bats that the bats became more frightening compared to wood and older aluminum models.
   33. Tom T Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:40 PM (#3370521)
Wasn't the reason LL went to aluminum bats was because it was supposedly cheaper than wooden bats? Just like we went to hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of saturated fats because it was healthier


Yep, that was the reason. Some folks used to argue for "safety" as well, but kids are incredibly unlikely to break a bat such that it explodes. Given how rarely I think most of the younger kids would break bats, I have a hard time believing it would cost that much more (if at all) than a fancy $300 aluminum/scandium/whatever-ium bat!

Regarding the whole "hitting for power" bit...I think it leads to frequent mis-assessment of some of these kids. My son did was in Pinto (7-8 y.o.) this year and all I can tell you is that our All-Star team was filled with big kids who could swing a big barrel bat and sometimes even make contact, resulting in line drives (i.e., extra base hits), but not terribly good batting averages. Meanwhile, two of the best "hitters" (i.e., kids who swing the bat and make solid contact on a regular basis) in the league were 6-year-olds who couldn't swing big, heavy-barreled bats and were considered "weak" All-Stars because they didn't drive the ball as far. Give all the kids wooden bats and these two probably would have been about #4 and #5 in our league, instead of being viewed by the All-Star team coaches as "unfortunate" selections for the All-Star teams (one made A, one B).
   34. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3370522)
I also meant to say safer but it somehow came out as only cheaper.
   35. Tom T Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3370526)
And it should be understood that when the bats were first introduced, they were actually aluminum, dented easily and while there was a bit of a spring effect, it wasn't nearly as pronounced as you find with the composite material models of today.


Great point. When I was in Mustang, it was obvious that Shawn Bruntlett (Eric's older brother) and Doug Tyson (whose brother Kevin was a Braves draftee) were clearly better than the rest of us, because they had great hand-eye coordination and incredible bat speed, allowing them to smash the ball faster and farther than the rest of us, even with old dented aluminum bats.
   36. kthejoker Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:47 PM (#3370527)
I pitched for a season and a half when I was 11-12, and fielded maybe 2 dozen non-bunts, and none of them were even a vague threat to my person.

I just like to stress how rare it is for pitchers to actually face that kind of danger. Of course it happens, but as a statistical percentage, rpackrat's kid is going to be just fine.
   37. rpackrat Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3370531)
joker: i realize that, of course, just as I relaize that he is unlikely to be abducted on the way to school, etc. As a parent, it still gives you nightmares, no matter how irrational you know it is.
   38. Tom T Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3370533)
Oh yeah, regarding bike helmets....

I never had anything happen to me, and I'm sure that from a probabilistic perspective it was never likely that anything would happen to me.

That said, I'm not about to let my kids go out on their bikes without helmets. There are vastly more cars on the road then in the past, and the drivers may well be paying less attention to their driving than in the past. Either one of those factors, let alone the combination, says that the risk has to have gone up. Given that the expected outcome of an accident is either catastrophic (death) or effectively so (cf. NFL players and initiate those outcomes before the age of 20), I'm all for reducing the risk.

Add in that my insurance premiums and medical expenses are higher if there are more incidences of long-term care (more likely as we keep more people alive), and I'm even more motivated to impose on David's liberty, because his liberty adversely affects mine. :) [Not, however, that I don't understand his perspective...I just don't happen to be overly sympathetic --- if accidents involving individuals not wearing helmets resulted in death with probability one, I would side with David and be opposed to mandatory helmet laws.]
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3370534)
I completely agree that this is a frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court, but I'd be all for banning aluminum bats---not by law, but by the decision of each and every baseball league. If OB can ban these godawful things, why can't amateur leagues?

I know that they're cheaper, but this is yet one more case of our knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, let alone not knowing that there's something inherently evil about the whole idea of a fucking metal bat of any kind. Aluminum bats make about as much sense as an aluminum baseball---they upset the entire ecology of the game.
   40. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3370538)
I completely agree that this is a frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court, but I'd be all for banning aluminum bats---not by law, but by the decision of each and every baseball league. If OB can ban these godawful things, why can't amateur leagues?

I know that they're cheaper, but this is yet one more case of our knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, let alone not knowing that there's something inherently evil about the whole idea of a ####### metal bat of any kind. Aluminum bats make about as much sense as an aluminum baseball---they upset the entire ecology of the game.
You know what upsets the entire ecology of the game even more than that? Not being able to play at all because you can't afford it.
   41. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:58 PM (#3370540)
Actually the bike helmet did save my three year old a head injury once - she was wearing it in the house, lost her balance and hit her (helmeted) head on the corner of a counter.

Better leave it on full-time. Now that you're "aware" of the danger, you might be liable for taking it off.
   42. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 29, 2009 at 06:59 PM (#3370541)
The sick thing about this, of course, is that aluminum bats only exist as a Little League-ish institution because parents want to watch kids roughly replicating what adults can do at the plate, albeit on a miniature scale: home runs, long fly balls, doubles, etc. They don't want to see a bunch of squibbly grounders and humpback singles that you'd get with a heavier wooden bat -- it's boring! It's lame! (So goes the argument, I mean.)


When I coached LL, squibbly grounders and humpback singles were pretty much what my kids were capable of, aluminum bats or no. However, teaching them two things turned my teams into relative offensive juggernauts playing an exciting game:
1) bunt! Great for kids that are scared of the pitched ball. One of them even got good enough to go 3b or 1b line, and he'd do it all the time.
2) the ball is in play following a walk. So run to first... and keep going!

Fortunately, the parents mostly dug it, so there wasn't all this "Tommy's a power hitter. Let him swing for the fences!" business.
   43. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:07 PM (#3370549)
I think lost in all of this is the fact that some kid swung the bat that killed the pitcher. It's obviously a terrible accident, but I think I would have a hard time living with myself.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3370559)
You know what upsets the entire ecology of the game even more than that? Not being able to play at all because you can't afford it.

You know one way around that? Use wooden bats that are thicker than pool cues and jockey's whips, and you wouldn't be breaking them all the time.

You know another way around that? Stop spending money on specially designed ballparks and fancy uniforms, and tell the sponsors to divert some of their money to bats. Present it as a community issue and give them lots of laudatory publicity, as if it were their own idea.

Baseball is NOT inherently all that expensive. It can be played on the amateur level for far less than it generally is. The league I played in as a 19 year old played on a public playground (the Washington Ellipse) with uniforms that were replaced only every few years. Our DC City Champion high school team did the same thing. And guess what? We got every bit as much fun out of the game as they do today, when that same league plays in a designer ballpark and charges $7.00 just to watch.

You know what? That shit is totally UNNECESSARY to play baseball. But to play it right, you DO need a wooden bat.
   45. Gaelan Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:19 PM (#3370565)
I completely agree that this is a frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court, but I'd be all for banning aluminum bats---not by law, but by the decision of each and every baseball league.


Except that Easton spends a fortune lobbying/pressuring/buying little league into making sure this doesn't happen. This is why David is wrong. Freedom doesn't work. If you want to get rid of aluminum bats then you need to ban them.
   46. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3370572)
Yes, freedom doesn't work if you want to force people to do stuff they don't want to do. Not much of an insight there.
   47. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3370580)
How about a 'cash for Al' program? Give schools and leagues big $$ for turning in their Al bats for wood bats.
   48. Adam B. Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3370585)
If the USGA can put a limit on drivers, than various baseball organizations ought to be able to put a limit on aluminum bats. I don't want to see them banned because I assume there are cost issues involved. Aluminum bats last a hell of a lot longer than most wooden bats (though perhaps at lower levels, pitchers don't break bats as easily).
The NCAA introduced such limits a few years ago relating to the average speed at which balls flew off the bats. You've still got issues with the size of the sweet spot.
   49. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:33 PM (#3370587)
I completely agree that this is a frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court, but I'd be all for banning aluminum bats---not by law, but by the decision of each and every baseball league.

Except that Easton spends a fortune lobbying/pressuring/buying little league into making sure this doesn't happen. This is why David is wrong. Freedom doesn't work. If you want to get rid of aluminum bats then you need to ban them.


I'm sure that there's plenty of big bucks lobbying directed at Little League, but what that says to me is that those who want aluminum bats banned should step up and do some lobbying themselves with Little League, rather than relying on the government to do it for them---not every issue has to be resolved that way.

It's a disturbing trend that private lobbies wield so much influence with governing bodies of institutions like Little League and American Legion, but if citizen lobbying can override insurance companies to get a public option into a health care bill (not guaranteed, but far more likely than it seemed a couple of months ago), then I would hope that the collective cry of parents could override the financial interest of aluminum bat manufacturers, which aren't exactly Blue Cross/Blue Shield. But maybe I'm overestimating the generic run of parent.

Of course it would help if someone told these kids that they don't need to use a whip handle bat to be able to hit a baseball. There are more ways than one to address the problem of affordability.
   50. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:36 PM (#3370590)
Some folks used to argue for "safety" as well, but kids are incredibly unlikely to break a bat such that it explodes.

That's not completely correct. Obviously, neither the swing, nor the velocity of the pitch, are going to generate the force that you see at a major league level. As such, the "exploding" bat is substantially less likely. The problem though, is that a 10-year-old will drag a wooden bat up to the plate with a substantial crack or fracture that he won't recognize. A bat used in that condition can be dangerous, even if it's just a little guy swinging it.

Of course the risks of a batted ball can be significant but I have to say, as someone who still coaches a bit of Little League, I wouldn't put that risk in the top 20 of safety concerns that I have when dealing with a 12 and under group. More mundane stuff like not taking practice swings when they're is somebody standing next to you are of far more concern to me then this type of accident.

That said, I don't have kids of my own but I do have a cat- and if I could strap a helmet on the little ###### he'd be wearing one right now. I completely understand the parental concerns and, whether aluminum bats (in their current form) get banned or not, I'd be very surprised if pitchers aren't wearing helmets within the next generation or two.
   51. Gaelan Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:40 PM (#3370595)
Yes, freedom doesn't work if you want to force people to do stuff they don't want to do. Not much of an insight there.


The problem is that they don't know what they want. Or that they want the wrong things. Or that the people that run these organizations are corrupt. Or all of these things.

As to Andy I don't see what civil society answer there is since all of the existing civil society organizations have been coopted. What would have to happen is for new organizations to spontaneously develop outside of the existing structures. This is never going to happen. now David will respond that the fact that this isn't going to happen is indicative that it isn't a problem. I would suggest that it is indicative of the powerlessness of living in mass society.
   52. Gaelan Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3370598)
I completely understand the parental concerns and, whether aluminum bats (in their current form) get banned or not, I'd be very surprised if pitchers aren't wearing helmets within the next generation or two.


And if forced to choose between these options obviously wooden bats is preferable. Fielders wearing helmets is anethema to God.
   53. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:46 PM (#3370602)
Fielders wearing helmets is anethema to God.

I'm not a big fan but I just can't see it being avoided. With respect to the almighty, I'm guessing that once he heard about the "safe baseballs," he completely gave up on the game.
   54. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3370611)
The problem is that they don't know what they want. Or that they want the wrong things. Or that the people that run these organizations are corrupt. Or all of these things.

Freedom is apparently only OK if it leads to a result that Gaelan approves of. Hmmm.
   55. Cris E Posted: October 29, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3370614)
I completely agree that this is a frivolous lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court, but I'd be all for banning aluminum bats---not by law, but by the decision of each and every baseball league. If OB can ban these godawful things, why can't amateur leagues?

As the golf club mention above illustrates, this is not a technology issue. They can make wood or ceramic or metal act like wood and not break. It's all a money thing. Not just expense because wood needs to be replaced and metal can be sold for big dollars, though. It's a matter of getting enough folks together to create a large market for the "limited" bats to justify the investment and cover the lost share by the "fast" bats. If LL or Babe Ruth or MLB's RBI programs just said they'd only allow certified bats and then helped manufacturers certify them you'd see resilient bats that played like wood.

Where I see the problem in this is what age to stop controlling bats and let boys be men. An eight year old probably won't throw 80 nor hit 80, so most kids at that level are not going to face the real dangerous stuff. But some of the guys playing Legion ball are legally adults, and everyone in college should be. I suppose you just start the little kids on the slow bats from day 1, but Easton will never give away the uber-bat market for high school and college and Legion and the rest without a heck of a fight.
   56. God Posted: October 29, 2009 at 08:01 PM (#3370625)
But wood and aluminum are not the only two choices, right? I have to think that there's a way to make a composite bat that's less powerful than aluminum but less expensive than wood bats that break all the time. Shoot, for all I know such a thing may already exist.
   57. flournoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 08:02 PM (#3370626)
Did I read a suggestion that aluminum bats are cheaper than wooden bats? That is demonstrably false.

Any price advantage of aluminum bats over wooden bats is due to continually replacing broken wooden bats. But if you're talking about youth leagues with 50-60 mph pitches like everyone here seems to be doing, you will not see any broken bats. (You might when the kid starts hitting rocks with the bat at home, but that's the kid's own fault.) Aluminum bats don't last forever, either, they go dead quicker than you might expect, and kids will need to replace them anyway as they get older and need bigger bats.
   58. flournoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 08:03 PM (#3370627)
I have to think that there's a way to make a composite bat that's less powerful than aluminum but less expensive than wood bats that break all the time. Shoot, for all I know such a thing may already exist.


They do exist.

EDIT: I cannot speak to their relative expense to wooden bats, though, I haven't priced them out.
   59. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: October 29, 2009 at 08:11 PM (#3370637)
If LL or Babe Ruth or MLB's RBI programs just said they'd only allow certified bats and then helped manufacturers certify them you'd see resilient bats that played like wood.


Little League does have some bat rules, but they aren't super strict. Most leagues (including slow pitch softball) rely on BPF to determine whether or not a bat is legal. ASA does a good job with their bat programs because they actually test them with their own people. Years ago, bat companies did their own testing and they sometimes fudged some of the results for their hotter bats.

Little League Bat Rules
   60. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 29, 2009 at 08:27 PM (#3370655)
Why does anything at all need to be done? I don't disagree with the aesthetic arguments about aluminum bats (I can't watch the College World Series for that reason alone) but given the number of people playing baseball and the apparently low number of instances of this nature is it really that big a problem?

I'm not trying to be insensitive about this kid's family, I can imagine the desire to assign blame somewhere, anywhere, is strong with them. But $hit happens. If I wrap my car around a tree on my way home tonight it's not Acura's fault. At some point isn't it just a matter of deciding how much risk we are willing to take? How many people played baseball with an aluminum bat last year and how many died? If your answer is "one death is too many" then shouldn't we be banning vending machines, elevators, toilets and any number of common items that kill like 3 people a year?
   61. KT's Pot Arb Posted: October 29, 2009 at 09:32 PM (#3370710)
Why does anything at all need to be done? I don't disagree with the aesthetic arguments about aluminum bats (I can't watch the College World Series for that reason alone) but given the number of people playing baseball and the apparently low number of instances of this nature is it really that big a problem?

I'm not trying to be insensitive about this kid's family, I can imagine the desire to assign blame somewhere, anywhere, is strong with them. But $hit happens. If I wrap my car around a tree on my way home tonight it's not Acura's fault. At some point isn't it just a matter of deciding how much risk we are willing to take? How many people played baseball with an aluminum bat last year and how many died? If your answer is "one death is too many" then shouldn't we be banning vending machines, elevators, toilets and any number of common items that kill like 3 people a year?


You libertarians, if you had your way everyone would eventually die.
   62. KT's Pot Arb Posted: October 29, 2009 at 09:41 PM (#3370717)
Actually the bike helmet did save my three year old a head injury once - she was wearing it in the house, lost her balance and hit her (helmeted) head on the corner of a counter.


My two year old once hit her head on the counter, and tragically wasn't wearing a helmet. We were forced to rush to her side and listen to her lame cries, until I gave her ice cream. Then she went back to jumping on the couch. This time I did not warn her, figuring the first warning and experience was legally sufficient. But she fell off the couch and landed on her back, and cried again. That time I was out of ice cream, so I agreed to an out of court settlement.

Oh did I say once? I meant she does this three times a day. But never because she loses her balance, because she's not wearing a freakin big helmet in the house like some pathetic, over-parented, nerd. Instead she just climbs things, jumps on things, rides her plasma car scooter at insane speeds in the house, and chases the house cats until she has them cornered, and usually finishes every day with two new bruises, one new lump, and an assortment of scratches.

If I agree to any more out of court settlements, it's gonna be with the cats.
   63. Adam B. Posted: October 29, 2009 at 09:42 PM (#3370720)
Why does anything at all need to be done? I don't disagree with the aesthetic arguments about aluminum bats (I can't watch the College World Series for that reason alone) but given the number of people playing baseball and the apparently low number of instances of this nature is it really that big a problem?
Then bat manufacturers shouldn't mind paying out verdicts like this when the rare incidents do occur.
   64. flournoy Posted: October 29, 2009 at 09:49 PM (#3370728)
What? This bat manufacturer "shouldn't mind" paying $850,000 since it doesn't have to do this very often? Do you live on Mars?
   65. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 29, 2009 at 10:14 PM (#3370756)
This is a good argument for a no-fault compensation system in which manufacturers paid into some pool every year that made the victims whole in exchange for giving up their right to sue.
   66. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 29, 2009 at 10:24 PM (#3370763)
This is a good argument for a no-fault compensation system in which manufacturers paid into some pool every year that made the victims whole in exchange for giving up their right to sue.

That probably wouldn't satisfy either the trial lawyers or the bat manufacturers, but it's still a good idea. And although I'm not sure of the legalities of this, it might also be a good idea for leagues to require parents to sign individual waivers before allowing the kid to play, assuming you had such a fund to cover bat-related injuries.

Of course IMO they should still ban those bleeping aluminum bats, but if they're not going to do that, then at least this addresses the issue in a far better way than lawsuits and stonewalling.
   67. Cris E Posted: October 29, 2009 at 10:34 PM (#3370768)
Why does anything at all need to be done? I don't disagree with the aesthetic arguments about aluminum bats (I can't watch the College World Series for that reason alone) but given the number of people playing baseball and the apparently low number of instances of this nature is it really that big a problem?

It's a big problem, but there are two sides to it.

Lots of pitchers get injured badly every year. Head injuries are the worst, but arms, legs, ribs and such happen all the time as well. I'm not sure what you want in terms of proof, but there appear to be lots of studies out there documenting things. It's bad enough that NYC banned metal bats from their school system in 2007.

The thing is, I'm not sure the bat is the problem once your batter gets to a certain strength/size. I read one study that says a typical delta between wood and aluminum works out to around 5-10 mph. That's a tiny slice of reaction time (approx .02-.04 sec.) That's pretty much not going to matter in most cases like this. As much as I think the hopped up lightning sticks are giving hitters a big advantage, once the ball is coming at the pitcher's head he's either in position to field it or he isn't, and 98 vs 92 isn't going to make this all better.

How many people played baseball with an aluminum bat last year and how many died? If your answer is "one death is too many" then shouldn't we be banning vending machines, elevators, toilets and any number of common items that kill like 3 people a year?

There are going to be two standards here. Your average adult is allowed to get himself into more trouble than a student acting in a school-sanctioned event. So sure, let the adults die and sue, whatever, but people will insist kids' activities are safer than that whenever possible. That's why we have things like pitch count limits in LL and maximum games played in most high school sports. It honestly makes sense.
   68. Something Other Posted: October 30, 2009 at 03:28 AM (#3371463)
I, too, caught a ball at my face when I was ten. Still not sure how.
I caught a ball WITH my face at age 10 or so. I was a SS and the ball took a nasty hop on a very badly tended infield. My recollection of LL and sandlot injuries when I was a kid was most of them resulted from the ball hitting rocks, gopher holes in the OF, and the like. No recollection any pitchers getting hurt.

You know what upsets the entire ecology of the game even more than that? Not being able to play at all because you can't afford it.
So you'll be wanting the government to buy bats for poor kids, comrade?

EDIT: I played a lot of baseball when I was a kid, batted exclusively with wooden bats, and over 10 years broke one of them. Is breakage really all that common?
   69. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 30, 2009 at 04:24 AM (#3371508)
EDIT: I played a lot of baseball when I was a kid, batted exclusively with wooden bats, and over 10 years broke one of them. Is breakage really all that common?

Depends on the player and depends on the bat, but I'd be willing to bet that there's a huge inverse correlation between the thickness of the handle and the number of broken bats. I played baseball nearly every non-Winter day from 3rd grade through college and never broke a bat that I can remember. Of course I was always trying to decapitate the pitcher rather than swing for fences that didn't even exist on the fields we played on, so I always used a thick handled, thick barreled bat. It was almost impossible to shatter a Jackie Robinson model.
   70. flournoy Posted: October 30, 2009 at 04:25 AM (#3371510)
Is breakage really all that common?


Only if you're hitting against 90+ mph heat with thin handled bats. So for the situations being discussed in this thread, no.
   71. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 30, 2009 at 05:08 AM (#3371524)
And although I'm not sure of the legalities of this, it might also be a good idea for leagues to require parents to sign individual waivers before allowing the kid to play, assuming you had such a fund to cover bat-related injuries.

There probably was a waiver in this case - notice nothing was said about the league being liable, just the bat manufacturer. If the bats were dangerous, wouldn't the league be equally at fault for "failing to warn" absent a waiver? Of course it might be harder to get a verdict against the local Little League than the big, bad out-of-state bat company.
   72. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 30, 2009 at 11:17 AM (#3371560)
And although I'm not sure of the legalities of this, it might also be a good idea for leagues to require parents to sign individual waivers before allowing the kid to play, assuming you had such a fund to cover bat-related injuries.

There probably was a waiver in this case - notice nothing was said about the league being liable, just the bat manufacturer.


Actually, the victim was an adult, not a minor; thus making a parental waiver irrelevant. From the article:

In the verdict read in District Judge Kathy Seeley's courtroom, the jurors found the company, which makes Louisville Slugger bats, liable for failing to warn users of the danger of its aluminum bats and that this failure caused the accident that killed 18-year-old Patch.


DB
   73. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 30, 2009 at 01:01 PM (#3371590)
Actually, the victim was an adult, not a minor; thus making a parental waiver irrelevant.

There still could have been a parental waiver depending on when he turned 18 and whether the league allowed under-18 players, although he could have signed a waiver on his own. Not many places where you can participate in organized sports without some kind of a waiver, even if they're not always enforceable.
   74. Buzzards Bay Posted: October 30, 2009 at 02:05 PM (#3371627)
Legion.org is the website,click on rules and forms
   75. John Northey Posted: October 30, 2009 at 05:28 PM (#3371805)
I remember as a kid constantly hitting the ball straight back at the pitcher. Every single time. Don't know why, didn't matter where it was thrown it seemed I would just hit it back at their head. Never hurt anyone, as I am not exactly the strongest around, but scared a few pitchers. Eventually I learned to hit the other way but never could pull worth a darn.

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