Thomas Kingston spends a lot of time at the ball park. His six-year-old daughter, Gianna and eight-year-old son, Gavin are involved in Orchard Park Little League. Kingston is their coach. “They enjoy the fact that they have friends on the team and their dad as the coach,” he explained.
So does the father of two think the sport is safe? “I don't think it's dangerous but safety for children is definitely something that should always be looked at,” Kingston said.
That’s why he supports new legislation that would require all players to wear helmets with chin straps when batting and running the bases. It would also prohibit players younger than 13 years old from sliding head first. The purpose is to prevent injuries among players. “It makes my responsibility in keeping the kids safe a lot easier,” added Kingston.
Dr. Jeremy Doak is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for UBMD Orthopedics and at Women and Children’s Hospital. When it comes to head injuries, he said baseball is among the safer sports compared to football or hockey. He isn't convinced chin straps at bat offer any greater protection. “It's all very well intentioned and it's good to have these thoughts to protect the kids as much as we can. But, honestly I have not seen that be a big problem,” he said.
Doak said sliding head first causes its fair share of broken fingers and wrists. But, a child can easily hurt their foot or ankle by sliding feet first. He believes it is part of the risk involved in a healthy, active lifestyle.
The legislation is far from a homerun. It still doesn't have any support in the State Senate. That’s something needed if it were ever to become a law. It also hasn't made it out of committee in the Assembly.
To read a copy of the bill, click here.