Take Me out on a Stretcher: The Dangers of Aluminum Bats in Baseball

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Take Me out on a Stretcher: The Dangers of Aluminum Bats in Baseball
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With all the safety hazards aluminum bats have, is it worth to save a buck over our children's/friend's/teammates lives

*This is my article from Moraine Valley Community College's newspaper the Glacier. This article won first place in the Illinois Community College Journalism Association spring conference.

America’s pastime is turning into a deadly game of life and death. Young ballplayers have been experiencing horrific injuries such as broken jaws, fractured skulls, comas and even death due to the use of aluminum baseball bats.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) adopted new standards for aluminum bats a few years ago. The standards state that aluminum bats have to have a diameter of 2 5/8" and a weight-length differential of three. Despite the recent changes the NFSHSA has made, the aluminum bats are still a serious safety hazard. That is why I believe aluminum bats should be banned from high school and college baseball.

The reason why high schools and colleges use aluminum bats over wood is to cut the costs of purchasing new wood bats when they break. Aluminum bats are more durable and don’t need to be replaced as often.

"With the rate of colleges cutting (baseball) programs around the country, I think college baseball really has no choice but to stick with aluminum bats," said former Moraine Valley head baseball coach Tom Radz. “It’s much more cost-effective to keep using aluminum bats. Economically I can tell you that Moraine could not afford a year with wooden bats."

In 1997, J.J. Crisco and R.M. Greenwald conducted an experiment on aluminum bats. The results were conclusive. Aluminum bats produce faster speeds of balls off the bat than wood. The reason why aluminum bats produce higher speeds is because of the “trampoline effect” or “the sweet spot”.The “trampoline effect” is defined as “the bouncing back of the baseball off an aluminum bat. It occurs during and after the collision of the ball and bat, and results in the ball springing off the bat.” The bat barrel of an aluminum bat basically acts like a spring when the ball impacts it. The “trampoline effect” can send the baseball to speeds of 5 to 20 mph faster than the maximum speed of a ball hit off a wood bat, which is 93mph.

Even aluminum bats in softball pose a serious threat.

The Average Available Pitcher Reaction Time (APRT) of a ball traveling at 93 mph takes 0.4 seconds to travel 54 feet. The pitcher’s mound is exactly 60 feet, 6 inches away from home plate. Now with speeds of 100 mph plus the pitcher only has less than 0.030 seconds to react to a come-backer, which is impossible. According to the European Journal of Anesthesiology 18 (7) ,It takes 0.095 seconds to blink an eye.

Four years ago, my own brother was pitching and received a come-backer to his face. When that little white ball made contact with my brother’s chin it made a horrifying thud sound. He went down immediately and kept rolling around and repeating, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!” A few days later my brother had a huge hematoma (a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues) under his chin and had bruising on the inside of his neck.

Former Notre Dame Pitcher Wade Korpi was hit with a come-backer to his head in 2008. Korpi became a YouTube sensation from his experience with a batted ball off an aluminum bat. The video was so gruesome that people actually commented under the video asking if he was dead. Wade Korpi was lucky he survived. 

In 2003 Brandon Patch, an 18-year-old pitcher at a Montana high school, was killed after being struck in the chest with a batted ball off an aluminum bat. The family of Brandon filed a lawsuit against the bat company “Louisville Slugger.” The Patch’s case against “Louisville Slugger” was that their son had no time to react to the ball because it came off their aluminum bat too fast. The judge ruled in favor with the Patch family and awarded them $850,000.

Baseball is a game of reactions. It takes ¼ of a second to determine the spin of the ball, speed and location of the pitch and start the swing. So you as the batter have to decide either to swing or take a 90 mph pitch in less than ¼ of a second. It’s quite unreal to think about that fact now, as mentioned above the pitcher only has 0.03 seconds to react to a 96 mph come-backer.

Aluminum bats present a serious danger to pitchers as well as infielders. Based on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2009, 108,976 kids were treated in hospital emergency departments due to baseball injuries. The use of aluminum bats should be banned in college sports as well as high school. The players are stronger and can hit at dangerous levels. After all what’s more important, the costs of replacing wood bats for college and high school teams, or the player’s safety? It’s time for a change. Ban aluminum bats now.

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