This case involves an allegedly defective aluminum baseball bat. The plaintiff, a fifteen-year-old baseball player, was pitching in a high school game. The batter in the game was using an aluminum bat. After the plaintiff delivered a pitch to the batter, the batter swung his bat and hit the baseball. The baseball struck the plaintiff in his mid face. The plaintiff suffered a fracture and intracranial injuries. The fractured bones in the plaintiff’s face caused numerous facial and scalp scars and also caused him to lose his sense of smell and taste.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Can an aluminum baseball bat cause a ball to hit someone hard enough to cause facial fractures and is this a reasonable danger to someone playing baseball?
Expert Witness Response
Aluminum baseball bats are now more widely used in the game of amateur baseball more often and have in some instances replaced conventional wood bats as the standard type of bat used in playing games. The reason for this is that some aluminum bats have an extended barrel length which adds a flexible zone or trampoline effect that enhances the acceptable hitting zone and gives maximum velocity to the ball when it is hit with an aluminum bat. Aluminum bats are also widely used because they do not splinter easily like conventional wood bats and do not have to be replaced as often. Aluminum bats are also lighter and this makes them easier to swing faster. The main danger of using aluminum bats is that the bats are capable of producing batted-ball exit speeds that a pitcher cannot respond to quickly enough. This means that aluminum bats produce faster speeds off balls than conventional wood bats and when a baseball is moving at such a fast velocity, a pitcher does not have time to react and move out of the way of the ball. This may cause a pitcher to be hit by a baseball. The trampoline effect means that when an aluminum bat hits a baseball, the ball reacts like an object that hits a trampoline and bounces right off the bat. This gives the baseball a great speed after it is hit. The design of an aluminum bat allows it to bat a baseball at speeds that are 5-7mph faster than those of a wood bat. When a baseball hit by an aluminum bat is redirected back at the field, there is a danger that a player might be hit and may suffer broken bones, head trauma, coma, and possibly death.