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California legislature might ban aluminum bats

Post by Doug Pacey / The News Tribune on May 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm with No Comments »
May 5, 2010 6:38 pm

The familiar “ping” of aluminum bats might not be heard around high school baseball games in California for the next two years. A California legislative committee has proposed a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats so the governing bodies of the state’s high school sports can review the safety of metal bats.

New York City and South Dakota have already banned aluminum bats, which many believe are more dangerous than wooden bats.

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Here’s the full story from the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California legislative committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would place a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats in high school baseball, responding to safety concerns that were raised when a Marin County teenager was severely injured earlier this year.

The moratorium would allow time for the bodies that govern baseball at the high school and collegiate level to review the safety of aluminum and metal bats, which some say are more dangerous than their wooden counterparts.

The March incident left Gunnar Sandberg, a 16-year-old pitcher for Marin Catholic High School, in a coma for weeks, and prompted the Marin County Athletic League to suspend the use of metal bats.

“We are totally supportive of anything that will make the sport safer so others don’t have to live through what Gunnar and the family have had to go through,” Gunnar’s father, Bjorn Sandberg, said in a phone interview.

The California bill, introduced by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael passed the Senate Education Committee on a 5-1 vote Wednesday, and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Bjorn Sandberg said Gunnar had been in a coma for weeks and was happy to be recovering at home.

“He’s made really tremendous improvement,” Bjorn Sandberg said, adding that Gunnar will be returning to the hospital for rehabilitation therapy several hours every day.

Gunnar’s family had planned to attend the bill hearing in Sacramento but changed their plan when they learned their son was coming home.

At the legislative hearing, supporters of the moratorium said metal alloy and aluminum bats make baseballs travel faster and lead to more serious injuries, while opponents countered that wooden bats also are dangerous.

“The hyper-performance of high tech metal baseball bats has gone too far,” Huffman told the committee. “It’s increasing the risk of serious injury and yes, death, for young people and we have to do something about it.”

Metal bats already are banned in New York City and South Dakota, Huffman said.
Opponents argued that non-wood bats are not that much more dangerous than wooden bats, and cited studies comparing the two.

“The difference between the two of them … is actually very narrow,” said Rand Martin, representing Easton Bell Sports, a company that manufactures both wooden and metal bats.

“The situation, as tragic as it was in Marin County, would have happened exactly the same way if that hitter had hit that ball off a wooden bat,” he said.

Blaine Clemmens, a former scout for the Atlanta Braves, disagreed.

“I’ve seen all types of metal and wood, and I can tell you that there is an extreme difference,” Clemmens said.

It takes a lot more training for a player to successfully swing a wooden bat because it’s heavier and requires more extreme precision, he added.

Opponents of the moratorium also argued that metal bats offer a way for less-skilled high school baseball players to engage successfully in the game.

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