11192017Headline:

St. Petersburg, Florida

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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Metal Works For Golf Clubs, Not Baseball Bats

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The crack of the bat needs to return to kids baseball. Kids and metal bats do not mix. Wooden bats are used by Major League Baseball. Why do our kids have to use aluminum rocket launchers in a sport intended for exercise and fun?

School Sports Heads Debate Safety Of Aluminum Bats Some Say They Send Balls Flying Dangerously Fast

The crack of the bat needs to return to kids baseball. Kids and metal bats do not mix. Wooden bats are used by Major League Baseball. Why do our kids have to use aluminum rocket launchers in a sport intended for exercise and fun?

School Sports Heads Debate Safety Of Aluminum Bats

Some Say They Send Balls Flying Dangerously Fast

Bill Kalant never had a chance to get out of the way of the baseball that put him, as doctors told his father, “on the cliff of death.”

The pitcher’s parents, sitting a few feet away, heard the familiar “ping” of ball hitting a metal bat, followed an instant later by a sickening thud, but never caught a glimpse of the ball. It was more the position of Kalant’s body — still bent over from throwing a pitch, his glove still near the ground — than what they’d seen that led coaches to conclude they’d never witnessed a ball hit so hard.

Moments later, the 16-year-old Oak Lawn High School sophomore lost consciousness and like that, even before he came out of a coma two weeks later, he was thrust into an emotional debate over the use of aluminum bats.

At issue is whether aluminum bats have made baseball unnecessarily dangerous. On one side are those who say baseballs fly off these bats much faster than they do wood bats and have led to severe injuries and, in a handful of cases, death. On the other are those who say balls travel no faster off aluminum bats and that there is no evidence they put players at greater risk of injury.

Today, that debate is getting louder. Around the country, after decades of using aluminum bats a small but growing number of college and high school leagues are switching to wood bats. Beginning next season in North Dakota, every high school team will use wood bats — a move officials say was prompted by discussions that started when a Montana high schooler was killed three years ago.

In Illinois, where Kalant was injured and a college pitcher suffered a fractured skull last year, the state high school association hopes to put wood bats in the hands of players in several conferences next year to study injuries, run production and costs. And in Chicago, the coordinator of the public school district’s high school league says he’s seen enough of aluminum bats and wants to switch to wood as soon as possible.

“These aluminum bats have been nothing but bad … for baseball,” said Eddie Curry, who oversees Chicago’s public school league. “Some of these kids are afraid stiff of line drives coming back to them (and are) afraid of playing baseball because of aluminum bats.”

There’s no question metal bats have changed the game. Batting averages are higher and there are more home runs in games where aluminum bats are used.

For example, this season in 31 conference games using wood bats, Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire hit 10 home runs compared with 52 homers in 29 non-conference games using aluminum bats.

“The bats, they’re trampolines,” said the team’s coach, Jayson King. “The ball jumps off the bat.”