While baseball may seem to be a fairly safe sport, researchers have found that over a thirteen year period, more than one and a half million players under eighteen years of age were injured enough to be treated in emergency rooms. Although it is unclear how many children are involved in the sport, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) claims there are about six million in leagues and another thirteen million playing baseball on their own.
Researchers discovered this alarming data after analyzing a nationally representative sample of emergency room visits from baseball-related injuries during the years 1994 to 2006 using data that was gathered by the CPSC. Though most of the injuries were minor and more than ninety-eight percent were treated in the emergency room and released, 24,350 required hospitalization, mostly due to fractures and concussions.
The data has shown a decline in the amount of injuries from 147,357 in 1994 to 110,602 in 2006 possibly due to improvements in equipment. For example, the most common injuries were caused by children being hit by the ball, however, the now softer safety balls have been offering more protection. A separate study has also shown there have been no facial injuries to batters wearing helmets with face guards. Doctors hope there can also be a change to encourage children to wear mouth guards while playing the sport for added protection.
It seems clear to this writer that the improvements in safety equipment have helped to reduce injuries. Having played baseball as a young man from age 7 to 18, when we did not use batting gloves and wore metal spikes, it is nice to see the game is a bit safer than in the "old days" when I played. But, for traditionalists, it may be shocking to see a young person going to bat with a helmet and face mask, and hitting a "safety ball". I guess it depends upon the angle from which you view the situation, but it is hard to argue with the above numbers.