Topic: Pitching machine accident

billcase    -- 04-16-2002 @ 1:31 PM
  Sorry I put this in the wrong discussion group first time. I must be more shaken up then I thought.

Last night we had one of our top 8-year-old players in the league-playing pitcher next to a pitching machine. He went after the hit ball and ran into the wheel of the machine. The child was seriously hurt (this is as much detail I will go in to). Still waiting to hear from parents on the damage to his eye. I know we could have prevented this. What is the safety rules put in place for other machine pitch leagues. Need input fast so this doesn't happen to any other league

FungoesRUs    -- 04-16-2002 @ 2:26 PM
  We have a safety screen in front of the machine which protects the player positioned at that part of the field from a hard hit line drive. It also prevents balls from rolling under the machine, which might attract players. There is nothing to prevent a player from running into the side of the machine though, other that the coach who is positioned directly behind the machine.

I hope that this youngster pulls through without any permanent damage.

Bob_Byrd    -- 04-16-2002 @ 3:13 PM
  Chris, I am sorry to hear about this incident.

Now a word about Batting Practice. Please do it the way we suggest. We do it this way for a reason. The rule is No Infielder makes an attempt at any batted ball, period. All batted balls must go into the outfield or in the case of pop ups, allowed to drop. Now you know why it is done this way; for safety. I’m sorry you had to find out in such a shocking manner.

The players on the infield should be at a defensive position and take ground balls only from a coach. Those are the only players on the infield. The rest should be in the outfield breaking on fly balls.

I only hope most coaches are taking our lead with regards to how practice should be conducted. We didn’t put it in the Planner just to pay lip service to it. That is how it is supposed to be done.

I hope this youngster will be okay and we wish him our best.

Bob Byrd

irod    -- 04-16-2002 @ 5:35 PM
  I sent an email to one of the major pitching machine manufacturers concerning safety around their machine in machine-pitch games.  On their website, they advocate a game where, among other things, a "pitcher" player stands alongside the pitching machine.

The response was to "chalk an eight foot circle around the machine and make that area off limits to all players."  Does this sound like something a 7 or 8 year old is going to remember when fielding a ground ball?  Was their an adult nearby the machine who might have intervened?

My heart goes out to the player and family.  

coachburkett    -- 04-17-2002 @ 12:59 PM
  This really concerns me, we are planning a change in our tournament format this year to reduce the number of pitches over the weekend, but yet to play 2 more games (5 min).
We plan to use a pitching machine for seeding purposes first 2 or 3 games.  I was going to do the 8' chalk outline and have the coach feeding the balls watch for players.  I wonder if I could put a lawn chair (or something else) in front and under the wheels as extra protection.  I know there are a lot of leagues that use machines for pre-kids pitch on a regular basis.  How are they protecting the players? Or are they?  maybe I should put a coach in the circle feeding and a helper to protect players in the circle with him?  That accident you spoke of sounds terrible, I hope he pulls through it.

Feedback is appreciated
Coach Burkett

billcase    -- 04-19-2002 @ 12:01 PM
  Thanks to all

One of the best suggestion I received Via email, was a coach from Texas that mandates his leagues players playing the pitching position next to the pitching machine MUST wear a full double ear batting helment. The kid first base coach wears a batting helment too. They also use the circle layout around the machine. He responded that two players in his league ran into the machine last year. The results were different fom ours. The kids with the helments on was ready for the next batter to bat. Any commits on kids wearing helments while playing defence.

irod    -- 04-19-2002 @ 12:51 PM
  Batting helmets are a great idea.  I do not know of any rule prohibiting players from wearing helmets on defense (John Olerud/SEA wears one with no ear flaps).

But, depending on what type of machine is being used, there is still the possiblity of injury.  Rotating rubber "tires" can grab hands, arms, and sleeves.  Rotating machine arms can inflict severe trauma.  I don't believe a chalk line is enough.

Why aren't coaches pitching at this level?  If they can't pitch overhand, then pitch underhand.  We're talking 7-8 year olds.  Our LL has never used pitching machines and I don't see that these younger kids are missing anything by not using a machine.

I'm sorry if others disagree, but I do not think these machines should be used with younger players during a game.  The potential is too great for an injury.


Paull    -- 04-19-2002 @ 2:19 PM
  My son played both machine pitch and coach pitch as a 7-8. The coach pitch was by far the safer and easier method. Kids pitched the first two innings and the coaches pitched the rest. A *lot* less trouble, also since you didn't have to lug the machine around, set it up, and keep adjusting it.

Ran into a little gamesmanship from kid pitch coaches running in front of 3B player on ground balls to 'get out of the way'. Other than that, coach pitch was much better. If the coaches can't pitch, there is always a parent that can.

FungoesRUs    -- 04-21-2002 @ 10:23 PM
  We had "Opening Day" here in Dudley, Massachusetts today and because of this post we took steps to help ensure that it was a safe one in our pitching machine division.

One important change is that no child was allowed to play the pitcher position. There is no need to have somebody there next to the pitching machine. We spread the players out at normal infield depth but on the grass somewhat. The pitching machine area was a 10ft diameter circle which was marked off with the line machine. The players were instructed that the pitching machine circle was off limits and the ball would be ruled dead if the ball came to rest in that area. The players did an excellent job obeying the rules, we had fun playing baseball, the kids were good sports and nobody got hurt.

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