Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Youth Baseball: Pitchers Should Wear Helmets

Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive. The blow to the head instantly dropped him to the ground. He was able to get up and walk off the field, but he suffered a epidural hemorrhage, a brain contusion and a fracture skull that required a two hour surgery.

Brandon McCarthy was lucky, he was released from the hospital today.

There have been kids that were not so lucky. Seemingly, every year kids die.  I have written about this subject several times in the past.

Here is the deal. It is quite simple. The powers that control little league baseball have already mandated BBCOR bats to protect pitchers. Now they need to mandate helmets for pitchers.

All pitchers should wear helmets. I wish MLB would mandate it. The MLB makes first base coaches wear helmets, so it can be done. MLB should decree it to protect big league players. More importantly, the MLB should decree it to set an example for little league, HS, College and minor league players.

At the very least, I would love to see a prominent MLB pitcher wear a helmet to show kids that it is not uncool.


The Main Point

Parents do not need to wait until the MLB mandates the use of helmets. They should talk to their kid's coach and make it a requirement for pitching. My son didn't pitch much, but when he did, he wore a helmet. When my son was younger, his coach made everyone wear them. His coach did this because one of his players almost died from a line drive to the head. Almost 5 years later, that player still struggles with the debilitating affects of the injury. My son knows the kid very well, so it does not take any effort to get my son to wear a helmet when he is pitching.

Buy a helmet from the link below.


  1. Great article. My son is just starting to pitch and I am seriously considering having him wear a helmet. I have been looking for the face mask for his batting helmet which has not been easy to find.

    Thanks for addressing this.


    1. My son got hit in the face with a fastball when he was 10, but I never really worried about a face guard for hitting. I was more worried about a helmet for pitching. Buy the pitching helmet for your son by clicking on the link in the post. If McCarthy was wearing a helmet he would be pitching in next game in the rotation.

  2. I agree compeletely with your position on this. However, I must caution that the helmet you recommend (and similar products, which are catchers' skull caps) are NOT engineered for protection as are batting helmets, which have dramatically more padding, and thus they will not offer nearly that degree of protection. Batting helmets have extensive padding and they are tested for protection from thrown balls. Catchers' skullcaps do not have this padding, and batted balls travel even faster than pitches (one of Giancarlo Stanton's homers was over 120MPH off the bat). Skullcaps also do not have earflaps. I think it is unsupportable to say that if McCarthy was wearing one of these helmets he wouldn't have missed a start. David Wright was hit in the helmet -- the padded batting helmet -- by a pitch and sustained a concussion that sidelined him for weeks. I'm not saying a skullcap wouldn't afford some protection, but I think you are dramatically overstating the case. Easton briefly offered a pitcher's helmet that was designed for the job, but it seems to have been discontinued. We need some purpose-built headgear for pitchers. Make-do solutions are not going to get it done.

    1. Hi Coach Dan - Thanks for adding to the conversation. I wish that there was a specific helmet for the job that was both functional and baseball fashionable (probably not the best word) The Easton helmet looked like a bike helmet. http://www.statsdad.com/2011/03/youth-baseball-new-prototype-helmet-to.html

      Until then the catchers skull cap will be better than nothing.

  3. We just required skull caps for our pitchers in our live-pitch little league divisions. I would agree that some protection is better than nothing, but clearly there needs to be a helmet that is actually designed to protect pitchers. Some type of drop down ear cover would significantly increase protection.

  4. Why not just have them wear their batting helmet when they pitch? Are they so heavy and cumbersome that they'll affect their pitching? My son, who turns 9 in July will soon be pitching in a league of 9-10 year olds. Also, do kids that age hit it hard enough to require chest protection shirts? Thanks!

  5. Batting helmets do not offer enough visibility for fielding and they are too heavy. Plus I think that a pitcher wearing a batting helmet will get ridiculed. The catchers helmets look like ball caps. They create some discussion, but mostly out of curiosity. Yes 9 and 10 year olds can hit hard. Our entire team U9 - U10 team wore chest protection shirts.

  6. My son had two rebuilt ear drums and these were bad surgeries for my son. Talking to his doctor, the suggestion of wearing protection during pitching to protect his ears was made.
    My son wore his batting helmet with full facemask pitching in U8 last year. He was one of the top pitchers in the league so it did not adversely affect his pitching.
    From day one, we told both his coaches and my son if he pitches he has to wear his helmet. Not one word was said from his teammates, coaches, parents, or any opposing teams.
    My wife and I have stated that he will be wearing a helmet throughout his career (or until he doesn't have to listen to us). We figure if he's used to it from the start through his entire career, it will never bother him. I have heard of two pitchers in our local area being hit in the face by pitches so I'm glad he is protected.
    This year there is stealing on passed balls and next year full stealing. I am constantly looking for solutions to open up his vision more.

    1. There are numerous polycarbonate fave masks available now sklz and rawlings have them and Combat made a great one but we're bought out by Easton. They weigh nothing and visibility is great. You could wear it over a rear facing skull cap if desired it states it is only for softball but that is only for insurance purposes as it would be possible for a compressed baseball to pass between the polycarbonate frame if it were to hit exactly in one spot. I've used it in collegiate level baseball wood bats etc for the past 5 seasons and have never had an ssue

  7. This bat is an excellent choice for all youth baseball players and especially for those big hitters looking for a longer bat and an enhanced sweet spot.

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