• Thu, May 16 2013

There Is Finally A New Baseball Helmet To Prevent Your Kid From Getting Creamed

Player hit by baseballWhen I was in middle school one of my best friends was hit with a baseball during little league. Not in the “aww, he beaned you, take first base” kind of way but in the “call 911, there might be brain damage” kind of way. The hit was so hard it silenced the whole ballpark for an entire minute. He was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious, where the doctors had to cut a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure. He also suffered from mild amnesia for weeks after the injury, though he eventually recovered fully (and had a cool head scar to brag about afterwards).

The entire ordeal was frightening, which is why I was relieved to see Rawlings, one of the largest makers of helmets for little league players, introduce a first-of-its-kind ratings system for batting helmets. The standards will influence all of their helmet manufacturing on from this point forward.

The new system was designed to protect players based on age and size. Helmets given to younger players will now be made to withstand a hit up to 70 mph. Older kids,12 to 16, will have protection up to 80 mph and college kids will be protected up to 90 mph. All of these helmets are offer more protection than the current 68 mph, which is the national standard according to the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

What baffles me is why this is just now being re-evaluated. Head injuries in little league may not be as common as in the big leagues but they do happen, and often enough to warrant a set of guidelines to prevent them, including making NOCSA standard helmets a requirement. But the last time these standards were looked at was the 1980s.

With all the major technological advances in the last two and a half decades, why are we just now upping the ante on baseball safety? What about little league safety in general? I think improved safety regulations shouldn’t just stop at helmets; and I’m not the only one.

Lisa McGreevy, a New Jersey mom, is also concerned about safety standards in little league. McGreezy got the scare of her life when her son was hit in the chest with a baseball during a little league game. His heart stopped and he might have died if not given CPR by another mother. She is now lobbying for a chest protector requirement for all little-leaguers.

My family is a baseball family. My kids love it and my oldest is dying to get into little league. But until I can be certain that the safety technology is up-to-date I will always be one of the white knuckle moms in the stands hoping that my kid won’t get beaned.

(Photo: Susan Legget / Shutterstock)

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  • Michelle

    As an athletic trainer, I would really like to add to this that there currently is not any helmet in production for any sport that prevents concussions. This is something very important that parents need to understand. Just because your child was wearing a helmet when they were hit does not mean that they cannot sustain a brain injury. Helmets, like these, are very effective at preventing traumatic head injuries (ex: skull fractures) but they do not stop your brain from hitting against your skull. If your child sustains a blow to the head and experiences any headache, dizziness, memory loss, cognitive difficulties, fogginess, or is acting abnormal please have them evaluated by their doctor!

  • Rachel Sea

    I’m always glad for better head protection, and I think that there is certainly potential benefit to additional protective gear (MLB hitters often wear added protection on their most money-making limbs), but if the players are not well educated about the injuries than can still be sustained by protected players, then the risk that they will play a rougher game goes up.

    Gridiron football players are padded up with the best, most scientifically designed, safest gear possible. Rugby players, who are playing nearly the same game, wear no safety gear. Gridiron players sustain more injuries, of greater severity, and with more significant long-term repercussions than rugby players because their gear allows them to smash into each other at higher speeds. Gridiron players sustain more minor concussions, and more subtle life-shortening, brain injuries.

    Obviously if little league becomes a full contact game something has gone really wrong, but as little pitchers get better, and better training, their ability to hit a batter *just-so* goes up considerably.

  • Roxy Jones

    I actually just read a great blog post about preventing sports injuries called “Injury Prevention: Tips for Baseball Players and Coaches“. It was very insightful. There is so much more to protect other than the head.