Asking about injuries and safety factors is itself fraught with peril - only because of the false assumption that could be made. There is nothing statistically valid here: the percentages are just for comparison from one topic to another and in no way indicates the actual, real-world severity or frequency of any injury. In other words - people get hurt, but not all that often. So before we run out to add extra padding everywhere, read the first voter response below. Still, these are kids we're worried about. So do consider the issues and ask yourself what you can do in your league or association at reasonable cost to improve safety,
In the 'changes' chart above (last on menu), these were the choices proposed...
- Outfield Fair Catch - if two fielders are at risk of collision at point flyball will land, umpire calls 'fair catch' - similar to infield fly rule - and ball is considered caught.
- Spike Ejection - any spiking and runner is automatically out and ejected from game.
- Spike Restriction - only rubber, blunt point spikes are permitted.
- Safety Bases - mandatory on all fields, either cushioned or breakaway bases required.
- Slide or Avoid rule - strictly enforced, along with no-ball / no-block rule for catchers.
- Bat Speed - the new exit speed rules are mandatory - bats must be tested and appear on an approved list regardless of material.
- Reduced Injury Factor Balls - RIF balls are required in all games below a specified age level (say age 10).
- Dead Ball Rule - at the instant a hit or thrown ball injures a player, the ball is ruled dead, play stops, no runners advance (in contrast to current ruling in which play continues).
- Umpire Discretion - if an offical suspects a player is playing with an injury (pain in throwing arm, for instance), that official may rule the player ineligible - overriding a zealous coach.
Comments by voters...
Without a doubt the most dangerous aspect of baseball, especially in the younger levels is the ignorance of the coaches with regards to the rules and basic safety practices which should be observed by all adults involved with the children.
- Mark Moyer
One of the most dangerous places on a baseball field is the bullpens without a fence around them. The ones that are along the foul line where fielders can still make a play on a foul ball. Another is chain link fencing - the most popular form of containment in Arizona. I saw one of my teamates chase down a fly ball and run into the outfield fence (no warning track) and almost tear his kneecap off. He was out for a month and needed 45 stitches.
- Tony Kerber
I've three suggestions related to safety; both address adult responsibilities.
Don't steal, especially home, in a 'meaningless' situation. While reducing 'risk events' young players gain the added benefit of learning to win with their bats. If you are slaughtering the other team, consider sportsmanship.
Secondly, the boxes around home plate must be present. A fearless and aggressive young catcher often crowds the batter. The catcher's box can help keep him away from the bat swing. Catcher's interference hurts like all-get-out.
Catchers in youth ball have a particularly rough time. The equipment is often improperly adjusted, the wrong size or of poor quality. At minimum, take the time to adjust the gear.
- Chris Dunn
If the coach has coached correctly, there should be no collisions on fly balls in the outfield. The other players should be calling the catch as well as the best positioned player. (What you do in a practice, you will do in a game.) The fair catch in the outfield, over a certain age would be detrimental should you bring some younger player up from a farm team.
- Charles Clement
Batters at all age levels need better contour fitting batting helmets. Batting helmets should be required to have wire face guards and most importantly chin straps. The weight and design of todays batting helmets leaves a lot to be desired. Many parents decide to buy their own helmet for their child, which is a good idea as long as all the helmets meet a certain standard. Most parents and children would like more choices. Better face and head protection helps to build the confidence of young hitters.
- Brian Atkinson