Foul Play: Episode 2
Producer Jeffrey Marlowe
In this episode of Foul Play, we'll meet people who support the move to using wood bats in amateur baseball. Ridgefield Little League VP Joe Heinzmann tells the story of the Ridgefield, Connecticut Little League's switch to wooden bats. In addition, WFAN 's Rick Wolff speaks out against the dangers associated with metal bats. Also, Attorney Steve Kallas talks about the lawsuits surrounding the metal bat controversy and Little League's injury statistics.
Coming up next time: Wally Stampfel, New York Catholic High School Athletic Association's chairman and coach of the Mount Saint Michael Academy's varsity baseball team defends the use of non-wood bats in amateur baseball and rejects the idea of a metal bat ban.
Coach Stampel stated in The New York Times, "I mean, if you want to say more balls get hit harder with an aluminum bat than a wood bat, obviously I can't deny that. But that doesn't make aluminum bats more dangerous." read the entire story
Even though as Attorney Kallas asserts, "There are a number of other cases (in baseball and softball) in the tri-state area that have been settled out of court." He believes these lawsuits stay relatively unknown because "...parties are usually barred from speaking about the outcome of the case (usually a pre-trial settlement which has no finding or admission of liability and includes an agreement that the attorneys and the parties will not talk about the case)."
Q: Is there a perception that metal bats outperform wooden bats?
A: Yes, the general consensus from those closest to the game is that metal bats outperform wooden bats. An acoustic study comparing aluminum and wood bats performed by Daniel A. Russell, Associate Professor of Applied Physics at Kettering University lends credence to those assertions.
Q: Why don"t Little League records have a higher incidence of injury?
A: Little League only counts a child's injury when a family files a secondary insurance claim through Little League insurance. Because most families prefer their own insurance, many injuries are not recorded. An example of this was the Baggs v. Little League International Inc. case where a boy was struck in the eye from a ball hit off a metal bat. According to the defendant's attorney, the Little League only became aware of this incident because the boy's parents filed a claim with Little league insurance, to help pay the medical bills required to treat their severely injured child.
Lawsuits (in addition to the Patch and Domalewski suits) involving injuries from baseballs hit off of metal bats. Complied by Attorney Steve Kallas.
The premier plaintiff"s case in this area is Brett v.Hillerich & Bradsby (Louisville Slugger). Jeremy Brett was hit in the head by a ball hit off an aluminum bat. He suffered severe head injuries and brought suit in federal court in Oklahoma. In 2002, Brett won a jury verdict which totaled $150,000. The money was paid by the bat company and they did not appeal, according to Brett's attorney, Joe White, Jr. of Oklahoma City.
In Sanchez v. Hillerich & Bradsby, Andrew Sanchez was pitching for USC on April 2, 1999, when he was hit in the head by a ball hit off an aluminum bat. He suffered a fractured skull. After much legal wrangling, the case was settled for an unspecified amount in 2002 with no admission of liability.
In Hannant v. Hillerich & Bradsby, Daniel Hannant was hit in the head in a high school game near Chicago, Illinois on April 1, 2000. He suffered severe head injuries while pitching for his high school team, the Pittsfield Saukees, when he was hit in the head with a ball hit off an aluminum bat. He sued for $1 million in 2002 and the case was eventually resolved, according to his attorney, Robert Chapman of Chicago, Illinois, who is not allowed to discuss the case other than to say it was resolved.
In a pending case in New York State Supreme Court, Baggs v. Little League International, John Baggs, Jr. was playing in a Little League All-Star game in July 2006 when he was hit in the head by a ball hit off an aluminum bat. He suffered a broken orbital bone and other injuries that required multiple surgeries. While the damage was caused by a ball hit off an aluminum bat, Baggs and his family are suing Little League International because Little League had just increased the age limit by 90 days (the cutoff went back from July 31 to April 30, thus allowing older kids, who could not have played before, to continue to play Little League baseball) and Baggs was hit by a ball hit by one of these previously ineligible players. Little League's motion to dismiss the case was recently denied, according to John O'Leary of Staten Island, attorney for plaintiffs. Mr. O'Leary also said that no bat company was named in the suit because the actual bat was not found after the incident.
A new case: Yeaman v. Hillerich & Bradsby filed in June 2008 in Norman, Oklahoma (state court). Dillon Yeaman was hit in the face during a summer baseball game. He suffered severe facial injuries. The case was just started against Louisville Slugger and they are going to add the store that sold the bat.
There are a number of other cases in the tri-state area that have been settled out of court (in baseball and softball). But information on these cases is difficult to find because there is little or no publicity and parties (and their attorneys) are usually barred from speaking about the outcome of the case (usually a pre-trial settlement which has no finding or admission of liability and includes an agreement that the attorneys and the parties will not talk about the case).