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.
There’s no scarier moment for any sports parent than to see your son or daughter bang their head during an athletic event. You hold your breath until your youngster finally gets up off the ground, and walks off the field in order to clear their head.
But that’s when the real decisions have to be made. As my brother, Dr. Bob Wolff, said on the Sports Edge, if your youngster gets a serious bop on their head during a game, there’s no way he or she should go back into the game until they are cleared by a physician. That might be a tough rule for a kid, but in the long run – -and let’s face it -that’s what we’re talking about — the long run of their life — there’s no reason to run the risk of a secondary concussion. Sports are fun, but there’s no reason to jeopardize one’s health.
Look around the sports world. How many of our favorite players have suffered concussions and serious side effects? Steve Young…Tim Tebow…that poor young HS football player from Montclair, NJ who died last year after a series of concussions.
The bottom line? When it comes to your youngster’s health and welfare, if they suffer a serious knock on their head, they sit out until they are cleared — not by the coach or by you – but by the family doctor.
Pete Williams, a long-time guidance counselor at Mamaroneck HS, offered some great insights on the NCAA Clearinghouse rules for aspring college student-athletes. Basically, if your son or daughter has any dreams of playing sports in college, you have to make sure that they’re taking the right courses starting as freshmen in HS.
The rules for minimal GPA and SAT or ACT scores are pretty straightforward, but each year, there are lots and lots of college freshmen who don’t have what they need academically in order to try out or play on a college team. As such, please be sure to go to www.Eligibilitycenter.org to get more information about what your son or daughter needs to do to be cleared.
Also, regarding that HS baseball coach from New Mexico who paid for two strippers to entertain two of his players on a road trip to Denver — and then after he got fired from his coaching AND teaching job, he complained that he deserved a second chance — just like Rick Pitino and Bill Clinton.
Problem is – Pitino and Clinton were involved with sexual escaspades of their own – they were NOT accomodating two HS students. That’s a big difference. While I certainly don’t condone Clinton or Pitino’s acts – you would certainly expect better behavior from a famous coach and US president – in this particular case, what the coach from New Mexico doesn’t merit any kind of second chance.