Two-Year Ban on Metal Bats in High School Baseball Advances

Legislation to place a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats in high school baseball was approved May 5 by the Senate Education Committee.

The measure, AB 7 by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat, was sparked by 16-year-old Gunnar Sandberg, who was hit in the head by a line drive off a metal bat while pitching for Marin Catholic High School in Huffman’s district.

Huffman told the eight member committee that what he called “performance-enhancing” metal bats are easier to hit a baseball with than wooden ones, and power the ball with greater velocity, potentially causing greater injury. Sandberg spent more than 50 days in the hospital before recently returning home.

“There are some people who think the answer is to ban metal bats. That’s what they’ve done in the City of New York. And they point out that at all professional levels wood bats are used. Even the elite high school tournaments use wooden bats,” Huffman told the committee, which approved his bill on a largely party-line vote.

“Safety might be addressed by some form of protective gear worn by pitchers,” Huffman said.

“That’s why (this bill is a) narrowly tailored temporary measure that doesn’t decide what the safety solution will be. It’s a cautionary measure to level the playing field while nudging baseball officials to bring this decades long debate” to a conclusion.

Opponents, which included bat makers and veteran high school baseball coaches, said there wasn’t much difference between hitting a ball with a wooden bat or a metal one.

Among the opponents was Guy Anderson, the coach of Cordova High School’s varsity baseball team for 40 years. He said he’d coached the team for over 1,200 games, 847 wins.

“I’ve seen the wooden bat. I have seen the aluminum bat. I’ve never had a pitcher in that entire time I’ve coached who has had a serious injury.”

He said that one of the advantages of metal bats is that they have a larger sweet spot and can help less gifted players hit more successfully.

Rand Martin, a Sacramento lobbyist, testified on behalf of Easton Bell, whose website describes it as a “leading designer, developer and marketer of branded equipment and accessories that enhance athletic performance and protection.”

Martin said the company was just as concerned as Huffman about safety but that bat bans weren’t the answer.

“What we do is do everything we can to maximize both performance and safety. We are in the process of looking at and developing protective headgear for pitchers,” Martin told the committee.

“All sports have risks. Baseball for boys is the least risky of all sports. We’re very supportive of making it even safer.”

Martin said he would have “loved to have a metal bat. I might have hit something.”

The end of Huffman’s two-year moratorium coincides with the adoption of new bat performance standards for high schools which are set to take effect January 1, 2012.

Sen. Curren Price, an Inglewood Democrat, asked Huffman the impact such a moratorium might have on small retailers of sporting goods.

“I assume we all agree we have to put safety above profits,” Huffman replied.

The measure now moves to the full Senate for a vote.


Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. when is the senate vote going to happen ?

    Comment by Dave — 5.05.2010 @ 8:59 pm

  2. Herb Score would tell Jared Huffman it really doesn’t make any difference if the bat is wood or metal. There are freak accidents in all sports that can be reduced by better equipment, but not completely.

    To support the rationale for Huffman’s bill, the venerable Old Mission Beach Athletic Club eliminated metal bats from the annual beach softball tourney in San Diego. The ball simply comes of the bat too fast. Yes, it’s more expensive to buy wooden bats. But if you are a high school baseball player, there’s nothing like the day when new bats arrive from Louisville. Put on a car wash, sell some stuff and raise the money for new bats. Or repair them with glue, screws and fiber glass as we did “in the olden days.”

    Plus, I can’t picture Might Casey with a metal bat. No offense to the Easton people.

    Comment by Jim Cassie — 5.06.2010 @ 12:25 pm

  3. The size of the sweet-spot on a wooden bat is about the size of a pea, whereas, the size of the sweet-spot on a metal/composite bat is about the size of a cucumber. Consequently, the number of balls out of 100 that come off a composite bat at maximum velocity far exceeds the number of balls out of 100 that would come off a wooden bat a maximum velocity.

    At the High School varsity level, even though the maximum velocities of a composite and wooden bat might be comparable, we would expect that about 75 to 80 balls out of 100 would come off a composite bat at the maximum velocity, whereas, only about 15 or 20 balls out of 100 would come off a wooden bat at maximum velocity. That’s significantly many more dangerous balls coming off the bat, at maximum velocity, for the pitcher to have to avoid.

    We don’t let the pitcher gain an advantage over the batter by adding pine tar, sweat, spit, or Vaseline to his fingers, so why let the hitter step in there to face a pitcher with a loaded bat cannon, with a sweet-spot the size of Texas.

    This argument eliminates all wiggle room, from Little League to College Baseball.

    Comment by Baseball — 5.17.2010 @ 6:38 am

  4. This is the stupidest waste of my tax money I have seen as of late. This is a knee jerk reaction to a freak accident. I have been coaching Little league for the past 10 years, with ages from 8 years to 14 years old. In all that time and 1000’s of games I have not seen any thing like this happen and all we use is metal bats.

    I understand this is talking about high school, but it just a thought away from saying if we are “protecting” our high school age kids why not all the kids.

    Quit wasting my tax dollars and let the kids play.

    Comment by Robert White — 5.24.2010 @ 1:15 pm

  5. Why use a bat that fools you into thinking your a good hitter? If you want to play in the “bigs” hit with the same thing they hit with. At some point in your career, if your good enough you’ll have to swing wood. So start now.

    Comment by Todd — 7.22.2010 @ 6:39 am

  6. that’s would be an unforgetable experience.

    Comment by buy hockey jerseys — 4.04.2012 @ 10:42 pm

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