Marin league approves moratorium on metal bats

March 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A life threatening injury is sparking change in the North Bay, where 10 high schools have agreed to stop using metal baseball bats.

The Marin County Athletic League met Thursday afternoon to consider replacing aluminum bats with wood ones after a line drive critically injured a Kentfield pitcher on the mound.

Two weeks ago Gunnar Sandberg was pitching for Marin Catholic High School when a batter, using a metal bat, hit Sandberg's pitch and the ball came off the metal bat back at him at an estimated 100 mph. It hit him in the head and he has been in coma ever since.

"We're all here to discuss the switch from metal bats to wood bats," said parent Robb Woodcock.

The hearing is the result of that game two weeks ago when 16-year-old Sandberg had no time to react to the line drive that hit him above the ear.

Parents of other players came to ask the board of the Marin County Athletic League to put a moratorium on metal bats for the remainder of the baseball season.

"If you consider how the metal bats are marketed and why people buy them, they buy them because there's more pop coming off the face of the bat, the ball travels faster," said Woodcock.

Woodcock told the board with metal bats a comebacker gets to the pitcher faster, leaving less time to get out of the way or get a glove up.

"I've heard, 'Well, it's five million to one that it's going to happen to your son.' Well, weren't those the same odds Gunner faced?" said Woodcock.

The league board voted unanimously to put a moratorium on metal bats for the remainder of this year's baseball season and replace them with wooden bats that don't strike the ball as hard.

The mother of one of Sandberg's team members has started a drive to find the wooden replacements.

"Well my son is Tyler Scott, he is third baseman for Marin Catholic," said Marcy Scott.

Marcy's husband played AAA ball with the Indians, the Braves, and the Twins.

"Basically he's provided me with all of his contacts and friends in the baseball industry," said Marcy.

Louisville Slugger is donating 120 wooden bats and the San Francisco Giants tripled that.

"They've come through with 360 bats," said Marcy.

The goal is to replace every metal bat on every team in the league. And at Marin County Roofing, Chris Miller is checking e-mail requests for another drive to support the Sandberg family. She has ordered T-shirts with Sandberg's No. 17 on the back, and on the front it reads "Got wood?"

"Right now, I have 1,200 being made, but it's not going to be enough," said Miller.

Miller has been flooded with orders, raising $10,000 for the Sandberg family in just two days.

"Oh it's huge, it's huge. I have them coming from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, everybody wants a shirt to support the family. I can't tell you how proud it makes me feel," said Miller.

Miller said her 17-year-old daughter, a classmate of Sandberg, came up with the shirt idea. Miller did not really know the Sandbergs, but added, you don't have to know someone to care.

Donations and T-Shirts:

The family says people can donate to CaringBridge or at the Bank of Marin under The Gunnar Sandberg Fund.

For a "Got Wood?" T-shirts: The shirts are navy blue with white writing and come in all sizes: Adult (S,M,L,XL,XXL,XXXL) and youth (S, M, L, XL). The shirts are $25 and checks can be made out to the Gunnar Sandberg Fund. They will be available at all Marin Catholic baseball home games, at Marin Catholic High School during school hours, and via Chris Miller (the shirt organizer) by e-mailing her at: chris@marinroofing.com

For a T-shirt you can send check or cash to:
Christine Miller C/O The Gunnar Sandberg Fund
250 Francisco Blvd. West
San Rafael, CA 94901


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