The debate over metal baseball bats has gone on for years. Many feel that they are dangerous, as they have offer more spring and have the ability to propel baseballs farther and faster. For pitchers, especially, as well as other infielders, line drives are a constant danger.
Metal bat proponents acknowledge the danger, but feel that it is inherent in the game itself. A line drive from a wooden bat has the potential to be as damaging as one from a metal bat. While a true statement, the question is whether metal bats are more dangerous.
Between the two, the move to ban aluminum bats has achieved the most momentum, with Major League Baseball disallowing their use. Most college and high school teams have the option of either wood or metal, though several states have banned metal bats completely.
In California, a group of lawmakers are looking to join those other states in banning metal bats. The renewed push for regulation came earlier this year after Gunnar Sandberg, a 16-year-old, suffered a severe brain injury and swelling after being struck by a line drive during a practice game.
The baseball struck Gunnar in the forehead at roughly 150 mph, knocking him down and causing his brain to swell. In an emergency surgery, doctors were forced to remove a significant piece of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. They also put him into a drug-induced coma in order to expedite the healing process.
Miraculously, Gunnar seems poised to make a full recovery and recently threw out the first pitch at an Oakland A’s pre-season game. Doctors will also be reattaching the piece of his skull they removed and, after that, Gunnar should be able to rejoin the ranks of normal high school students.
Still, he was lucky. Banning metal bats for California baseball teams would, hopefully, make it less likely that young athletes will need luck – that brain injuries like Gunnar’s will be less likely to occur.
- California proposes ban on wood bats after kid suffers head injury (Sports Illustrated)