Topic: Mouth Guards in Baseball???

irod    -- 03-19-2003 @ 12:48 PM
  Our LL has now mandated that all pitchers must wear mouth guards.  This issue has raised a lot of concerns amongst us managers.  We are not questioning the safety aspects of this, so much as how it is to be implemented.

My question to this group is:
Has anyone had any experience with kids wearing mouth guards in baseball?  What worked?  What didn't?

Thanks for any help.

THop    -- 03-19-2003 @ 1:28 PM

I have coached a few players that I wish had used an oversized mouth guard that was taped on very tightly.

Seriously, dental work is very expensive and I can’t blame any parent for wanting to protect their child’s teeth that are in or have just come out of braces.

Mouth guards are certainly not going to hurt anything. And in my opinion, as long as we are allowing “cushioned corked” baseballs to be used with aluminum bats, it is probably a wise decision.


irod    -- 03-20-2003 @ 1:52 PM
With regard to pitchers wearing mouth guards, coaches in our league seemed to be concerned with the following situations:

1.  Visiting teams will not have mouth guards for their pitchers because they are not familiar with our local rules.

2.  There is no penalty specified if a pitcher is found to be without a mouth guard.  We ASSUMED that the penalty is to have the boy get his mouth guard or he doesn't pitch (sort of like a catcher without a cup).

3.  Pitcher on the mound, with foot on the pitchers plate, drops his mouth guard from his mouth.  Balk?

4.  Pitcher on the mound, foot not on the pitchers plate, takes mouth guard out of his mouth with free hand, ball in the glove.  According to LL rules, he has gone to his mouth while on the mound.  Automatic ball called and possible ejection.

5.  Pitcher in Juniors (65 feet from home plate) required to wear mouth guard.  Third/First baseman in Majors (60 feet from home plate) are not required to wear mouth guards.

6.  Third or First baseman playing in for a bunt.

I did not see a coach that had a problem with the safety aspect of the mouth guard.

We are just concerned about how this will work.  Our league has not thought the whole thing through.  That is why I asked about what worked and what didn't.


This message was edited by irod on 3-20-03 @ 1:55 PM

spw1    -- 03-20-2003 @ 8:01 PM
  At the risk of being called insensitive, I have to say that this seems crazy.  What injury scenario are these designed to protect?  I was always under the impression that mouthguards were designed to prevent concussion by cushioning impact of upper and lower jaw and from biting ones tongue.  I am not sure what these are supposed to do in the event of a line drive into ones face or similar.  I do not think it will stop  many from being injured in most scenarios that I can envision.  Whats next, shin guards for baserunners and helmets for fielders?

To me it just seems like another attempt shield kids from any hazard.  To me, the parents who advocate  should perhaps encourage their kids to take up activities such as synchronized swimming or billiards.

In 11 years of coaching I have never seen or heard of any local pitcher being injured by batted ball or even close.  This is not to say that it cannot or doesn't happen, but...I don't know, maybe I'm just a cantankerous purist.

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

JimW.    -- 03-21-2003 @ 11:04 AM
  I think THops statement about “cushioned corked” baseballs being used with aluminum bats is the root of the problem.  I understand spw1's point but unfortunately, also having a wife in the dental profession and having been around youth baseball for the past 10 years, I have seen and heard of some locally disturbing head and face injuries involving a batted ball to the pitcher.  We have evolved to the time where high tech bats have changed quicker than our understanding of the safety issues that are the result of this highly desired "pop" of the bat.

Changing the ball or bats makes the most sense.  I would not condemn a parent that has the desire to try to identify a way to reduce risk of injury.  I respect their choice.  I think it is unfortunate that the league mandated this.  I would rather see the league make safety suggestion to the parents.  The next thing you know we will hear of a league taking it a step further and mandate the pitchers wear a helmet with a face guard.  This would reduce the head and eye injuries also wouldn’t it?

Whaleman    -- 03-21-2003 @ 4:14 PM
  I'm not sure that mouth guards are the answer.  I do agree that something needs to be done with the juiced up bats.  It is getting out of control.  I think Little League pitchers especially are susceptable to line drives back at them.  Whats next a pitching protector net.  

tigerjeff    -- 07-28-2003 @ 3:13 PM
  I have a different "take" than perhaps some other e-mailers. Seems to me mouth guards would have as much effect on safety as a gnat might have on an elephant.  Heard about the 18 y.o. American Legion pitcher who was just killed by a line drive to the head?  Why in the world shouldn't pitchers in youth baseball not wear helmets or some sort of protective head gear, how would that "detract from the game"?  Take a look at the website -- he suggests that safety recommendations are not followed by youth leagues, in part, because of idiotic macho dads risking their kids' well-being.  Any comments on that?  I think mouth guards are a bandaid on a gunshot wound, we as baseball parents need to be taking a hard look at whether face masks on batting helmets, and yes, even some sort of protective head gear for pitchers, should be standard issue equipment, maybe even protective padding for the chest for batters, i.e. "heart-guards."  Sorry if that sounds wimpy, guys, but I'm more interested in my kid's life and limb than stupid machismo.        

irod    -- 07-28-2003 @ 5:10 PM
  Well, our season ended last month and here is what transpired with the mouthguard issue.

Juniors were not required to wear them this year.  All other ages below juniors had to wear them.  I argued at an early Board meeting against their use, citing Little League's own studies and their own safety publication that showed that that mouthguards would not keep injuries from happening.  Also, noting that pitchers cannot go to their mouth on the mound (balk) when adjusting or removing the mouthpiece.  Our LL Board of Directors had not even considered the Junior LL pitching rule ramifications.  Some of our other coaches complained that the safety issue was changing the game, but I don't feel that way.

However, as an experiement, I had my pitchers wear mouthguards for our first six games.  We had no problems.  I was surprised.  I should also mention that my pitchers had previously worn mouthguards for football and were comfortable wearing them.

Why only six games and not the entire season?  Actually, I just forgot to remind our pitchers about it.  After about our eighth game, one of them asked about why I wasn't having them wear their mouthguards.  I told him that it was up to them if they wanted to continue wearing one, but that it was not a mandatory thing this year.  I had not parents ask me about it at all.

I can see the day when pitchers will have to wear helmets (there is no current rule NOT allowing a pitcher to wear a helmet) and heart guard protection.  One devestating injury or death is one too many.


pml22    -- 07-28-2003 @ 7:21 PM
  My son wears a facemask for this very reaason. I paid for four years of orthodontics and I have considered the mouth guard option, too.

Mouthguard is not only for pitchers. Having a ball whiz between your jaw and shoulder while going hard and low to backhand a screamer will make you think twice.

milstone    -- 07-31-2003 @ 1:11 AM
  We should be constantly improving the safety of youth
baseball. Some will resist any new safety measures because
such changes alter "the experience". Such arguments were
also advanced, and are true, about bicycle helmets ("the
wind in my hair"), automobile seat belts ("the freedom of not
being strapped down") and air bags ("what?"). However,
these are not compelling arguments for rejecting these safety

The fact that a given coach has never observed a pitcher
struck by a batted ball doesn't mean this does not occur. I am
aware of this occuring several times in my area. Does that
prove anything? No. The fact is this does happen, almost
certainly more often with low drop metal bats, and it should
be addressed.

To repeat yet again, for two years our local spring leagues
have used wood bats for 10 yo and older with excellent
results. Everyone loves them - players, coaches and parents.
Our summer teams play in metal bat leagues that seem
extremely antiquaited by comparison. Interesting since wood
is the old-fashioned material.

Metal bats would be fine safety-wise, although still
aesthetically disgusting, if they were designed to perform like
wood. Most, if not all, are not. Also, hitting performace should
reflect skill and practice, not dollars spent in the metal bat
"arms race".


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