Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that "the family of a boy who suffered brain damage after he was struck by a line drive off an aluminum baseball bat sued the bat's maker and others on Monday, saying they should have known it was dangerous." The others named in the suit are Little League Baseball and Sports Authority.
The family of Steven Domalewski, who was 12 when he was struck by the ball in 2006, filed the lawsuit in state Superior Court. It names Hillerich & Bradsby Co., maker of the 31-inch, 19-ounce Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat used when Steven was hit.Steven was pitching in a Police Athletic League game when he was hit just above the heart by a line drive. His heart stopped beating and his brain was deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes, according to his doctors.
Although he was not playing in a Little League game, the organization is being sued because it gave its seal of approval to the bat, certifying it as safe for use by children, [family attorney Ernest] Fronzuto said.
Said Fronzuto: "People who have children in youth sports are excited about the lawsuit from a public policy standpoint because they hope it can make the sport safer. There are also those who are skeptical of the lawsuit and don't see the connection between Steven's injury and the aluminum bat."
Shari Roan of the LA Times later took a look at the issue noting "some people say a ball comes off an aluminum bat with more force than off a wooden bat, making aluminum bats unsafe for kids. The issue has gained traction in some city councils and state legislatures. New York City last year banned metal bats from use in high school baseball games. And a bill is before the Illinois state legislature that would make it illegal for any adult to knowingly allow the use of an aluminum bat during a recreational baseball or softball game in which a person under age 13 is a participant."
Roan points out studies by the Youth Committee of USA Baseball, of which Little League International is a member, and the national Consumer Product Safety Commission which each concluded that "there is no evidence that aluminum bats pose a greater safety risk than wooden bats."
Interestingly, in my opinion at least, is no mention of the death of Rockies' Minor League coach Mike Coolbaugh, who last season died while struck by a batter ball when coaching first base. Obviously, the death was caused by the use of a wooden bat.While there is great sympathy for the Domalewski family, where do you draw the line? Short of having pre-teens donning full catching gear in the field, or wrapping them completely in bubble wrap, what can really be done to prevent such random, freak accidents? Little League Whiffle Ball?