Tony Baranek of the Southtown Star in south suburban Chicago puts together a persuasive story about why softball pitchers should wear masks — namely, two crushed faces in a week.
The Illinois High School Association does not required pitchers to wear masks, but then again, neither does the National Federation of State High School Associations. In fact, the national organization only five years ago instituted the first rule requiring masks for batting helmets, which took effect in 2006.
From the SouthtownStar:
“These are avoidable injuries, injuries that are 100 percent avoidable through a piece of protective equipment, which is pretty cheap [editor’s note: about $40] readily available, been proven to be effective, and been proven not to interfere with athletic performance,” Dawn Comstock said.
Comstock is a principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
She didn’t give me any numbers that would send chills down your spine – on average four girls in a million suffer dental damage from being hit each week, and 12 in a million suffer eye injuries. But get this.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but girls softball players are more likely to have a dental injury than boys football players,” Comstock said. “And on the issue of eye injuries, the rate is much, much higher than the eye injury rate we see in football players.”
When I managed my daughter in 8-year-old softball (last year), one of the opposing managers had her pitcher, first baseman and third baseman wear masks. I wondered what the big deal was, considering I saw maybe five line drives hit anywhere all year. I attributed her caution to her being a lawyer. But after reading this article, I can see why she was so careful.