State Senate considers moratorium on metal bats

A display of wooden, left, and aluminum, right, baseball bats hangs in a sporting goods store in Robinson Township, Pa., Tuesday, June 26, 2007. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
May 5, 2010 6:35:11 PM PDT
A bill to ban metal bats in California high schools temporarily could become a reality. A Marin County assemblyman says his new bill would allow time to review and update equipment safety standards, following a near tragedy to a high school pitcher.

Last week, Marin Catholic and all of the teams on the Marin County Athletic League went to the rest of the state to ask for the banning of metal bats. At least the northern part voted that down, but now it has gone to the State Senate.

Baseball players at Marin Catholic High School are now using wooden bats for their practices.

"You get the satisfaction of playing with the same equipment the pros play with," team captain Nate Kristoff said.

It's been more than a month since a line drive off a metal bat felled pitcher Gunnar Sandberg, who returned home from the hospital on Tuesday.

Since his head injury, this team and then the entire Marin County Athletic League went to wood because supposedly, they're safer.

On Wednesday in Sacramento, a state Senate committee advanced a bill that would place a moratorium on aluminum bats for two years.

"Aluminum swings faster, they cause the ball to travel faster, they hit line drives more frequently because of the huge sweet spot. These are the claims the bat manufacturers themselves make when they sell their product," Assm. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said.

Not that any such bill will have clear sailing. Bat companies argued for economics and other coaches for a more exciting game.

"I don't believe in my association with the game that the wooden bat is any difference than the aluminum, with the exception of one thing, that it sounds a lot better," Guy Anderson said.

But pitchers on the wrong ends of come-backers don't agree. As USF pitcher Matt Hiserman told ABC7, three weeks ago he could have used that extra fraction of a second.

"It was a severe concussion. I had a fracture of the temporal bone in my head," he said.

"It's going to take someone on national TV or the College World Series getting struck and tragically injured, maybe fatally injured before somebody goes 'Oh,'" metal bat opponent Blaine Clemmens said.

A message Marin Catholic already knows too well from the near death of a friend and teammate, who was just playing a game.

"We have his uniform hanging in the dugout every game. It would be nice to see his uniform hanging on him," Marin Catholic coach Mike Firenzi said.

If the law passes, it could become official by August. Sandberg plans to have tacos with his team on Wednesday night and will be throwing the first pitch at a fundraiser game on Thursday at AT&T Park for his medical bills.


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