Baseball is not considered a contact sport and is not known for serious injuries, at least not at the little league level. But 11-year-old pitcher Jake Schutter may beg to differ after a line drive left him deaf in one ear, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. Now his family is suing aluminum bat maker Easton for the injury.
The hard-hit ball struck the left side of Jake Schutter's head, after which he dropped to the ground and vomited. It's still uncertain whether he sustained cognitive damage but his family was told he would be permanently deaf in his left ear.
The culprit for the injury is the Easton BT265 aluminum bat the hitter was swinging, according to the plaintiffs. It's not the first time aluminum bats, which send baseballs flying at a higher velocity than wooden bats, have been blamed for baseball injuries.
Wooden bats are rarely used in little league play, mostly because they can splinter and are easily broken. But Illinois injury attorney Antonio M. Romanucci, who is representing the family, said aluminum bats put young athletes in harm's way:
"They advertise these bats as hitting balls through cement walls. They have tremendous exit speed. These bats are being put in the hands of some kids who are strong."
In 2009, Antonio Romanucci unsuccessfully pushed the Chicago City Council for a ban of the bats. New York City passed such a ban and he claims the use of aluminum bats has been controversial for some time.
But Steve Libman, who coaches the boy's team, said he's convinced that wooden bats are much safer:
"When a good batter hits a ball and hits it off the sweet spot, you're going to get the same kind of injury to the pitcher."
Wooden bats also are much heavier for younger athletes to swing.
A Chicago Tribune article about the lawsuit noted that a Montana jury awarded $850,000 in 2009 to the family of a youth league pitcher who was struck and killed by a line drive hit off an aluminum bat.
Talk to a Chicago accident attorney if you believe a loved one's injury was the fault of another party.