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Batting practice, blood and bad memories

Growing up playing sports, especially softball, I always had bumps and bruises from the glory days of playing with my best friends in the local recreation leagues. Although I was only in the

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second grade when I started playing softball and baseball, I knew I would be playing for a long time. Each year, our coaches would preach safety. In all honesty, this went in one ear and right out the other. We all just wanted to get on the field and play!

Later in my young career, I started noticing more of my friends and teammates getting injured. Some had a bandage on their fingers from broken nails while others had casts on from broken bones. All of a sudden, the safety speeches were taken a bit more seriously. I was fortunate enough to make it to the NCAA Division I level without a serious injury until my junior year. Let’s rewind from my junior year of college to when I played on the “A” team in middle school.

During batting practice my teammates and I would have secret battles with each other that were not spoken openly about. You always have that internal fire when you’re an athlete, especially on a team full of your best friends. We all thought, “Who’s going to hit the most balls to the tree line today?” When you have a tree line that’s over 290 feet away, all of a sudden your mechanics and power align and you’re hitting the sweet spot on the bat nonstop! Unfortunately, one of the best hit balls all practice was off of my bat and into our starting pitcher’s face. Everybody at practice froze. My coach dropped his Pepsi! Our coach was never seen without a Pepsi and if anybody spilled it, that meant more sprints. We all knew this was not good!

What happened next? Everybody naturally unfroze after what seemed to be the longest 5 seconds in my middle school career. All of a sudden my starting pitcher had blood pouring from her nose and mouth. A few of us ran inside to get paper towels and ice. Others ran to her to help her off the field and others ran to pick up our coach’s Pepsi. Phew! Fortunately, she was “OK” considering what had happened. She was out of commission for a solid two weeks. Needless to say, my coach found the funds in the school budget to purchase a pitching machine after that.

Looking back at this messy accident, I think to myself, “If coaches and leagues preach safety throughout the season, why is one of the most vulnerable players on the field not wearing something to protect them?” On multiple occasions during Major League Baseball games, Minor League Baseball games, Professional Softball games, NCAA Baseball and Softball games and downward, you hear about pitchers getting hit in the head, neck, mouth, collarbone, so on and so forth. I witnessed one of these scary injuries firsthand, at a very young age, and immediately should have thought about creating a pitchers mask myself.

I’ve had my fair share of witnessing bloody injuries due to softball pitchers just 43-feet away taking a line-drive to their face. I’ve been playing softball for 17+ years now. Injuring my middle school starting pitcher seems like it happened yesterday because of how intense the injury and accident was. The whole situation felt like it happened in slow motion but judging by my pitcher’s face, it certainly did not. It’s bizarre to think that young players are still getting injured as line-drives to pitcher’s faces is becoming more common. Take the initiative to be safe on the field. I’d rather have all of my teeth after a game then an insane story about a line-drive to a pitcher’s face that knocked them unconscious.

P.S. – A few years later, I was throwing batting practice before a summer tournament game and my same pitcher nailed me in the leg with a wicked hard line-drive. Thankfully, it wasn’t my face because I still have discoloring on my leg where I got hit.

Latest Pitching Injury – Ray’s, Matt Moore

For the second time in less than a week a Major League Baseball pitcher got struck in the face. Ray’s Matt Moore was hit with a comebacker just days after Chapman’s injury. Thankfully the injury sustained wasn’t nearly as bad as Chapman’s. Moore was hit in the mouth area but was able to slightly deflect the ball with his glove, minimizing the hit. He continued with the play at hand, racing for the ball and lobbing it to first base, getting the final out of the inning. He voluntarily left the game with trainers, receiving stitches.

With the MLB season well underway, it is inevitable that another pitcher will

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be struck by another line drive to the head or face. Unfortunately, it has happened twice in spring training with only handful of games in-between each injury.

When will the MLB or the Players Association take the initiative to put safety measures into place for their pitchers? Players and umpires have been wearing safety equipment for years! What is holding pitchers back from wearing a pitching helmet? Is chancing a life and career changing injury more important than the judgment of teammates, fans and opposing players for taking a safety initiative on the mound?

Visit CBS Sports for the full story and for additional stats on Matt More, check out MLB.

Cincinnati Reds, Aroldis Chapman Suffers Injury from a Line Drive

It’s March 19 in Surprise, Arizona, and fans are on the edge of their seats during a Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals spring training game. They’re excited to finally be able to have baseball back but they’re more excited knowing that Opening Day is just a mere 12 days away. While chatter is occurring in the stands, as well as on the field, fans are munching on peanuts and predicting their chances to make playoffs this season.

Sixth inning. Royals are at bat. Aroldis Chapman, Reds’ hard-throwing, left-handed pitcher releases a 99mph pitch and just like that…injury struck. Chapman was hit in the face by a line drive and dropped facedown on the ground. Trainers, coaches, and players from each team rushed to the mound. He was carted off and brought to a hospital where he underwent tests. The ball struck just above his left eye, leaving him with broken nose, a fracture above his eye (which needed a plate and screws), and a concussion but luckily no brain damage.

Reds manager, Bryan Price said Chapman was conscious and talking the whole time. Also stating, “I know this isn’t uncommon as we would like it to be, but it was frightening, certainly frightening”. Fortunately, Chapman was expected to have a full recovery. As of this week, nearly a month later, he has been cleared to return to practice.

Game after game, season after season, players and coaches all pray to the baseball Gods that they’ll make it through another game with no injury. When an injury as severe as Chapman’s occurs, players and coaches think to themselves, “I wish we could have done something to prevent this”. The injured player thinks, “When I get back on the field, what can I do to prevent it from happening again?”.

Pitchers helmets have been a topic of discussion for a few seasons and have yet to make their debut. Is a possible win for a pitcher worth the risk of a concussion, a fractured eye socket, or even worse…death? What do you think? Throw (pun intended) some Tweets our way @PitchersHelmet!

Check out ESPN for full story and for additional stats on Aroldis Chapman, visit MLB.

Protective pitchers caps approved by MLB for 2014 use

As of yesterday morning, the MLB announced that they approved protective

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headgear for their players. The padded cap is manufactured by 4Licensing Corporation subsidiary isoBlox and will be made available to pitchers in time for spring training next month. Read the full article below, including player interviews and feedback, courtesy of ESPN:

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/10363291/pitchers-protective-caps-approved-major-league-baseball

Why your kid needs a pitchers helmet

Softball player with Pitcher HelmetIt has become a too common story every summer. From the local diamonds to the big league ballparks, pitchers find themselves in the crosshairs of line drives hit back up the middle. Most of the time the ball ends up between the pitcher’s legs, or slightly to the left or right. But the few times that an off-balance pitcher finds his head in the way of a batted ball, it can have disastrous consequences.In 2013 alone, two big league pitchers have found themselves out for a considerable amount of time. On the same mound at Tropicana Field in 2013, both J.A. Happ and Alex Cobb suffered injuries that put them out of the game for an extended period of time. Happ’s injury left him with a fractured skull, and a trip to the 60-day disabled list. Cobb is making his way back to the Tampa Bay Rays after his head injury left him with a concussion and vertigo. If history is any indication, however, there may be long-term symptoms for both.Both Happ and Cobb survived their run-in with a baseball. Dylan Williams, an 8-year-old Indiana Little Leaguer, was not so lucky earlier this summer when a thrown ball made contact with the right side of his head. Williams died as

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a result of his injuries. Doctors are still baffled as to the circumstances that lead to the traumatic event, but know that better protection may have mitigated his injuries.

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So what are pitchers, and in some cases the parents of pitchers, to do about the ever-growing head injury epidemic in baseball? According to the CDC, more than half of all injuries suffered in youth sports are preventable, but how? The answers may not be as “cool” as a titanium-infused necklace, but they are out there.

Easton-Bell introduced a pitcher’s helmet back in 2011 designed to protect the young boys and girls that take the mound every summer from serious injuries. However, it was slow to take off and is no longer on the market. For a short time, Worth produced a pitcher’s helmet for slowpitch pitchers, but again, slow sales led to a halt in production. Another solution, called the HALO, was tested out by some Major League Baseball Pitchers this spring. Although it weighed only four ounces, it was not well received by some pitchers, including Brandon McCarthy, who suffered a line drive to the head in 2012.

“It felt like there was a cat sleeping on my head,” said McCarthy of the prototypes he tried on this spring.

While that may seem like a

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small trade-off when you consider that almost a year after the injury, McCarthy suffered a seizure tied to his head injury, one also needs to consider the effect that could have on a pitcher. Something substantial enough to offer protection is also prone to shifting on a player’s head, interfering greatly with their ability to perform.

While their may not be a suitable option for those in the majors, there is equipment out there that will provide the protection necessary for the young people playing the game. Parents are encouraged to do their own research and find the best option for themselves and their young athlete.

Alarming stats about sports injuries

When you think of sports injuries, especially aimed towards youth, what are the first two that pop into your head? Football and hockey are typically the first ones. Baseball and softball overall appear to be safer on the surface than those other sports, but the statistics may say otherwise.According to a 2009 Consumer Product Safety Commission, more children between the ages of 5 and 14 were sent to the emergency room than soccer and ice hockey combined, with a total of 110,000 reports. That’s 60,000 fewer than basketball and over 100,000 fewer than football, but there’s another telling statistic that should invoke a need for better safety equipment.That statistic would be the fatality rate. It’s estimated that on average each year, baseball and softball are responsible for three to four deaths in the United States alone. Among all traumatic brain injuries that children and adolescents receiver in America, it’s estimated that 21 percent of these injuries are a result of sports and recreational activities. Deaths in youth sports (and all sports for that matter) are extremely rare, but brain injury is the leading cause.

The reason for this is simple. In football, a brain injury with sudden and fatal impact is prevented with the use of helmets that possess state of the art technology. There is also the added benefit for football that the actual ball will not create enough force to cause serious injury.

Baseball, though, is completely different. When a ball is hit off of a bat, the speed can be incredibly overwhelming for a youngster to cope with. As they grow up, their reaction time is not on par with adults, and especially not with professional baseball and softball players. This can cause a very serious problem as infielders (especially pitchers) don’t have the necessary reaction time or equipment to catch a ball and prevent head injury.

It’s important to consider these statistics as they can be alarming. You never want to come off as the overprotective parent, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Especially in a sport that has resulted in several deaths each year on average. Always equip your players with the proper head protection (i.e. a helmet) at all times. Pitching, batting, fielding, it doesn’t matter. There’s no such thing as being too safe in youth sports.

Injury Prevention Tips

Preventing injury is an important part of all sports in every level. Keeping injuries from happening on the youth level can be difficult since there isn’t a professional training staff on hand at all times. However, there are some tips that you can take to heart to make sure that young athletes are doing their best to stay away from the injury bug. It can save a lot of hassle and suffering for all involved with the league from coaches all the way to parents. Here are some of the things to do to make sure that injury is prevented as best as possible.

Preseason Activities

Before the practices and games even begin, there are many things to do. Always make sure that your player’s medical conditions are known to the doctors and coaches. A preseason physical is a great way to make sure that everything is up to date health-wise with the player.

It’s also important to share this information with the coaches of the team so they know what to look out for. Also keep your emergency contact information available with the team staff so the right phone calls can be made in case something unfortunate happens.
Stretching and Hydration

Before games and practices, it is always important to keep the athlete well stretched and hydrated. Not only can it prevent heat-related problems that are common in the hot months of Summer, but it can also prevent injuries.

Keeping the muscles relaxed and relieved will help keep tension injuries away from the muscles. Sprains, tears and other muscle injuries can be nearly eliminated with the proper stretching technique. Cramps can be annoying for a player, so both stretching and proper hydration can take care of this problem.

Equipment
It doesn’t take the most expensive equipment to prevent an injury, it just takes the right equipment. Rubber cleats and shin guards are important to prevent injuries to the leg, while helmets can really help protect against head injuries. Damage to the head can be the scariest and most harmful type of injury, so the proper head gear at all times is of the utmost importance.

Even if the player thinks that wearing a helmet at all times is “un-cool”, let them know exactly what can happen without it. Many head trauma cases could have been prevented with head gear, so always keep it handy.

Rest
This is especially important with pitchers. Overworking a young arm can lead to severe problems down the road, so always limit the innings. Even if the player isn’t a pitcher, rest can be very important when the temperature is on the rise.

Coaches
Even though there isn’t a professional health staff on hand at all times, the coach can be a big help. If a coach is certified in first aid and CPR, they can help prevent very serious health problems from happening.

It’s important to take these tips to heart. There are too many young players that are injured each

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playing sports. According to a 2009 Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was a total of 110,000 injury reports for youth baseball and softball players. The worst part is that a lot of them could have been prevented. Always be prepared, and your players can lead happy and healthy sports careers.

Safety Fundamentals on the field

Youth football may grab all the headlines surrounding the dangers of head injuries, but youth and adult sports on the diamond share there fair share of risk. Often times, the head injuries that are suffered in baseball and softball can be much more serious initially, with long-term ramifications.

The recent uptick in the number of pitchers injured by batted balls has been a rallying cry of sorts for protective headgear for players in the field. Major League Baseball was quick to make changes in the wake of the death of minor league first base coach Scott Coolbaugh in 2007. Coolbaugh died after a line drive struck him in the side of the head while he stood in the coaches’ box, bursting a major blood vessel in his neck.

Keeping players safe has presented more of an issue, however. Players, for the most part, have a definite interest in some of the advances being made around the subject of head protection, but not at the cost of their ability to feel comfortable playing the game.

In recent years, many adult slowpitch pitchers have started turning to protective headgear. Bat technology has made toeing the rubber in adult leagues a dangerous avocation, as the ball can be launched at scary speeds. However, the slowpitch pitcher is a different beast than those who pitch in baseball.  A longer delay between the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand allows them to not only back up, but also get in to a balanced position to better field an oncoming ball. A less strenuous pitching motion also allows them to wear headgear that would wreak havoc with a baseball pitcher’s windup.

After MLB pitchers Doug Fister and Brandon McCarthy both suffered head injuries from batted balls in 2012, the league fast-tracked research in to cranial protection for pitchers. However, though a few contenders have emerged, testing the prototypes have sent manufacturers back to the drawing board with notes on what big leaguers liked or disliked.

Easton-Bell was first to unveil headgear in 2011 designed specifically for baseball players. Dubbed the “Dome,” the protective helmet fit over a pitcher’s hat. It was made out of a very lightweight material produced by Absorb Energy, but it did not make it very far in the open market.

Recently, a new product by Unequal called the HALO has been popping up. Made of lightweight Kevlar, the HALO is an insert worn inside the hat. Unequal states that the HALO can reduce the force of impact by 50 percent. Hopes are that it will succeed where others have failed in that it can be removed from the inside of the cap, and it also allows greater breathability to the user.

The search will unquestionably go on for a safe yet functional piece of equipment to help keep baseball players, especially pitchers, of all ages safe. Hopefully it will happen before another life is claimed on the diamond.

Sports Safety

Baseball and softball are fun for children and adults but the possibility of being hit in the head with a softball traveling 75 mph or more is very real. For that reason, batters, catchers, and

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now pitchers and outfielders can wear protective headgear to prevent concussions and brain injuries.

Headgear for everyone

The batter and the catcher are the primary players who can be hit with a wayward ball. The catcher is historically protected with a face helmet, padding and thick glove. Major and minor league batters and Little League kids have worn helmets since 1971.

Minor and major league pitchers should be wearing better headgear after Tiger’s pitcher Doug Fister was hit in the head with a comeback ball in last year’s World Series. Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland A’s had brain surgery as the result of a concussion and epidural hemorrhage from a line drive. Blue Jay’s pitcher J.A. Happ was hit by a line drive last May and left the field on a stretcher. Alex Cobb with Tampa Bay is another victim and the list is growing.

If top pros who can control the ball can be injured, softball players are are even more susceptible even if the ball only weighs six ounces. Some youth leagues require the pitcher to wear a helmet and recommend it for other positions.

A batter who is able to run the bases can run into a player protecting the base and both can knock heads. This has also happened in professional baseball.

Testing headgear

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has set performance standards for baseball and softball helmets for professionals and amateurs.

Professional MLB pitchers are willing to wear pitcher’s helmets if they don’t interfere with their pitching skills including the “wind-up”. The possibility of a hat with a padded kevlar lining is being developed and tested.

According to NOCSAE, helmets must undergo several impact tests before getting the organization’s seal of approval. The helmet is positioned on a dummy 24 inches from the ball release site and various impact speeds are tested.

Helmets of all sizes for all players must be tested since they are made for children and adults. The composition of the helmet is important with padding inside of a plastic shell. NOCSAE warns people not to wear a helmet with any sign of a crack.

Concussion Symptoms

Dizziness, a severe headache, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision are signs of concussion. A concussion results from blunt force trauma to the skull. The impact can also cause internal bleeding and other damage to brain tissue.

If a victim looses consciousness, 911 emergency medical services should be contacted immediately. It is not wise to move an unconscious person without professional medical assistance.

People who have undergone laser or cataract eye surgery are susceptible to detached retinas as the result of a concussion. A person experiencing blurred or graying vision should immediately see an eye specialist.

In some cases the symptoms continue for several hours or they reappear within

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24 hours. Post concussion symptoms including fatigue, nervousness and headaches should not be ignored.

Prevention

Many manufacturers of sports headgear surpass NOCSAE requirements. It is always a good idea to shop around for the best safety equipment to make softball safe and fun.

StartTheConvo

Start the Convo

Player safety has become the top priority for sports leagues from the professional all the way down to grammar school. One of the main focuses has been on head trauma and concussions. The National Football League has made a very public effort to reduce the number of concussions suffered by their players. Major League Baseball and all the leagues under it should be taking the same steps. It is time that the baseball community to look for
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ways to protect the pitcher. At all levels the pitcher is the most vulnerable player on the field. Batters wear helmets and sometimes guards on their shins and elbows to protect them from the ball. Catchers wear shin guards, helmets, face masks and chest protectors. Even the umpires wear protective gear. This is all to protect the players from balls that are coming in.

But the pitcher has no protection from balls that are coming out. And many times those balls are coming out a lot faster than they are going in. With batters using aluminum bats baseballs and softballs are heading towards the pitcher at speeds over 100 miles per hour.

The answer to

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pitcher protection is to have them wear a pitcher’s helmet. This will effectively cut down on the number of head trauma in baseball and softball.

One of the most recent incidents of an MLB pitcher getting his with a line drive happened in April of 1203 when Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher, J. A. Happ, suffered a fractured bone behind his left ear after being struck by a hit ball.

Whenever a pitcher gets injured by a hit ball the discussion of pitcher safety is brought up. Unfortunately, it dies down rather quickly. It is time for players and coaches to keep the conversation going.

The change will have to happen at the local level first. Coaches from local baseball and softball leagues will have to demand that pitchers helmets become mandatory for their players.

There are already a number of pitchers helmets models on the market today. They are lightweight and provide protection for the pitcher’s head and face. There are helmets designed specifically for slow and fast pitch softball. They are the same price as a batting helmet so there really is no excuse not to have all pitchers wearing them.

There will surely be pitchers who say they do not want to wear protective helmets. They will say the helmets are too bulky and interfere with their pitching motion. The same was said about the batting helmet and now every hitter wears one.

It will take time, and dedicated coaches and players, before the pitchers helmet is a permanent part of baseball and softball. If the conversation about pitcher’s safety continues leagues around the country will have to address it and find a solution. Hopefully, it will not take a tragedy for these leagues to take action to protect the most vulnerable player on the field.

StartTheConvo

 

 

 

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