18-year-old Brandon Patch was pitching in an American Legion game in Helena, Montana in the summer of 2003 when he was struck by a line drive off an aluminum bat. He collapsed to the ground, was able to utter a few words to his Dad before passing out, went into convulsions, and died a few hours later.
The Patch family sued Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufactuer of the aluminum bat, and the case is supposed to go to the jury this coming week. If the bat company loses, there’s a good chance the jury will award a very large financial judgment to the family. And that verdict will send a very strong warning message to all those groups which use aluminum bats, including Little League Baseball, the NCAA, high school associations, and so on.
In effect, the trial is centering on whether or not aluminum bats are more dangerous than wood ones. For years, people like myself, Steve Kallas, and dozens of callers to WFAN have made it clear that balls off aluminum bats definitely jump with greater velocity and thus are much more dangerous.
We’ll be curious to see what the jury in Montana decides.