Imagine taxiing your son to a Little League game, wishing him luck, and never again being able to converse or do the things you used to do together when he returns home. That’s what happened to the Domalewski family in June 2006 when teenage son Steven caught a line drive off of a metal bat – with his chest.
Doctors told the Associated Press, “The ball had struck his chest at the precise millisecond between heartbeats, sending him into cardiac arrest.”
Despite the fact that a man trained in CPR happened to be playing ball with his daughter nearby and rushed over to help, and the fact that paramedics happened to be a quarter-mile away and rushed Steven to the hospital, it was too late. His brain was damaged after being deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes.
“Pretty much, he died,” Steven’s father, Joseph, told the Associated Press in 2008.
Steven’s parents sued Little League for certifying that metal bats are safe for children; they sued Hillerich and Bradsby, who manufactured the Louisville Slugger; and they sued The Sports Authority, who sold the bat. The suit recently settled for $14.5 million.
“[Steven] still can’t perform any functions of daily life on his own,” the family’s personal injury attorney told reporters. “But this settlement provides them with some relief and comfort that Steven will get the care he needs for the rest of his life.”
Twenty to 30 times each year, metal bats injure pitchers like Steven. This year, Little League revised its website to forbid younger children from playing with “most” metal bats. “Certain ones found to meet the organization’s testing standards are allowed to be used,” writes Wayne Parry for the Associated Press. And, “League divisions for older players can use metal bats subject to certain weight and size limits.”
The Domalewskis’ case begs the question: Should metal bats be banned for everyone?