California to take some pop out of aluminum bats
SACRAMENTO – High school baseball teams in California will have to follow new safety standards for the metal bats they use under rules released Wednesday in the wake of accidents that brought national attention to the issue of the bats’ safety.
The aluminum bats will be tested to limit the speed of the balls they hit and will include a tamper-proof decal that would change color if the bat was modified to improve performance. While in production, the new bats will be broken in to ensure that their performance – the speed balls travel and the amount they bounce – could not be improved over time with wear.
Since the new regulations will be administered by the California Interscholastic Federation, California high schools competing in Nevada won’t be impacted. South Tahoe, North Tahoe and Truckee are among the high schools which are located in California but whose athletic teams compete in Nevada.
The changes came after 16-year-old pitcher Gunnar Sandberg of Marin County suffered a major head injury when he was hit in the head last March by a line drive off a metal bat.
Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Wednesday that he will also withdraw his proposed two-year moratorium on non-wooden bats for high school baseball teams.
His bill, AB7, sought to ban both aluminum and composite bats until new safety standards were adopted. Huffman said he postponed the bill for months as he worked on safety changes with the CIF, which sets statewide rules for high school sports.
The new rules released Wednesday will give California a jump start on implementing national standards for aluminum bats, which take effect in 2012.
The CIF announced in July that the composite bats that some high school teams use will also have to meet new national standards. The CIF also will encourage member high schools to require protective headgear for players.
Sandberg, who was in a coma for weeks following the accident, said Wednesday that he plans to resume playing baseball this season.
“Even though this new protective gear might not look like just wearing a regular hat, I would say that it’s definitely worth it, after what I’ve been through, and after what other kids have been through,” he said.
Huffman said many other young people have also suffered similar head injuries.
“Not all have recovered. Some young people have been killed from this very same type of incident: a line drive driven by a performance-enhancing metal bat,” he said.
– The Tahoe Daily Tribune contributed to this story.
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