Baseball Player Suffers Permanent Brain Damage After Being Struck by Ball

Baseball Bat Testing Expert WitnessThis case involves a young child who was severely injured while playing baseball for his school team in Alabama. During the game where the accident occurred, the boy’s team was up against a team from an opposing school that had a smaller than regulation baseball diamond. This particular division also did not have standards as to the size of the aluminum bat being used. On the day in question, the plaintiff was playing shortstop. The player hit a line drive to the shortstop, striking him in the head and causing permanent traumatic brain injury. It was claimed that the bat used was too powerful and had not been adequately tested by its manufacturer.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience testing aluminum bats.

Expert Witness Response E-088863

During graduate school, I worked and managed a sport science laboratory that specialized in the testing and certification of bats and balls: primarily for softball, but some work was done in that time with baseball bats as well. Since then I have done some consulting on the design of composite baseball and softball bats. For this case, the best assessment of the bat would be to have the certification test completed on multiple bats of the model in question to see if an off-the-shelf-bat was still in compliance. (I believe for Little League this would be the 1.15 BPF test). There are other things that can be checked on a bat such as barrel compression, moment of inertia (MOI), and modal analysis that can give an indication of performance and potential tampering, but if the goal is to see if the bat was too powerful, then the best course of action would be to independently test the bat against the certification requirements that it claims to meet. From my experience, it is not uncommon for a bat manufacture to basically maintain a bat design and give it a new paint job for the new model year. There shouldn’t be any problem with that, provided their materials and manufacturing processes are under control to ensure the bat truly is the same from one model year to the next.


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