Batted baseballs can injure players

By Tom Nordlie • Published: October 3rd, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Baseball is known as a non-contact sport.

But the reality can be quite different.

Occasionally, batted balls slam into pitchers, infielders and even the batters themselves. The results can be devastating.

How widespread is this problem?

A study published recently in the journal Pediatrics tried to answer this question. For two years, researchers tracked injuries sustained by baseball players at one-hundred high schools nationwide.

In almost three-hundred-fifty-thousand episodes of practice and competition, there were about four-hundred-thirty injuries from all causes. These ranged from muscle pulls and bruises to fractures and concussions. Fifty of the injuries… almost twelve percent… were caused by batted baseballs. In those situations, players were most often struck in the head or face.

So it’s not surprising that players hit by batted balls were almost three times as likely to need surgery compared with players injured by other mishaps.

There are almost half a million American boys playing high-school baseball every year.

So if the data from this study are representative of the nationwide picture, there could be more than fifteen-thousand batted-ball injuries every year.

The researchers said the risk could be cut if pitchers, infielders and batters used helmets with built-in face shields.

This equipment has been available for some time and is gaining acceptance in baseball programs for younger athletes.

But so far, it isn’t common at the high-school level.

Perhaps this study will help change things for the better… and the batter. Not to mention the shortstop.