Jurors heard arguments this week in a case that questions the safety of aluminum baseball bats, the Helena Independent newspaper reports. The lawsuit stems from the 2003 death of a Miles City Mavericks baseball player who was struck in the head by a ball hit with an aluminum bat manufactured by Louisville Slugger. The advantage of the aluminum bats is that they do not warp, splinter or break like wooden bats, though some contend they are more dangerous if thrown and when they strike a baseball. Prince William baseball injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that while the aluminum bats may avoid the cold weather “stinging hands” that he encountered in little league, the aluminum bats seem to send the balls at tremendous speeds back at the pitcher or toward other infielders who may not have the necessary reaction time to avoid danger and permanent injury. These baseballs hit at the athletes’ heads could prove fatal, as was the case here.
Attorneys for the plaintiff argue that aluminum bats allow hitters to strike the ball with such force it creates significant danger for other players. Plaintiff’s counsel told the jury, “The eyewitnesses watching the game will tell you they couldn’t see the ball until it ricocheted off his head,” attorneys argue the case is not a freak accident. Baseballs hit with aluminum bats, such as the one used in that American Legion game, only give pitchers milliseconds to respond in a defensive stance. The average is about 400 milliseconds, according to plaintiff’s counsel. They contended the pitcher who received the fatal injuries only had about 376 milliseconds response time.