Reporting John Cody
CHICAGO (CBS) – They are supposed to hit balls farther and faster, but one suburban couple says that’s exactly the problem with aluminum bats.
Jake Schutter, 11, was seriously injured playing in a Little League game. A hard hit ball off a metal bat hit Jake in the head.
And, as CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez reports, now his family is fighting to make sure no other child is hurt the same way.
“I just remember hitting the ground, seeing everyone around me, and everything was just spinning,” said Jake.
He was pitching a Little League game back in May when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of a much larger player, using a metal bat.
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“I didn’t know a ball could come off a bat that fast,” said Robert Schutter, Jake’s father. “I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed.”
Jake’s parents have filed suit in federal court blaming the maker of the bat: Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. They are seeking damages for Jake’s injuries, which include permanent hearing loss in his right ear.
“It took a lot of soul searching to decide that this is what we wanted to do,” said Cheryl Schutter, Jake’s mother. “And we wanted to do it so that it doesn’t happen to another kid.”
The Schutters say it’s time to either limit the use of certain metal bats to kids of a certain age, or to ban them all together.
“We can start naming off name after name of children who have been injured or killed by balls coming off of metal bats,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who’s representing the Schutters. “The design of these bats and the performance of these [metal] bats over wooden bats are what are the cause of these injuries.”
Yet, at a local Sports Authority, it’s clear what’s selling. The selection of metal bats is huge, compared to the few wooden bats.
CBS 2 asked manager Jon Coslow if he gets many questions about the safety of the bats.
“No, just, ‘I’m playing in a league and I have to have this certification bat.’ That’s the big focus,” said Coslow.
While Jake is cleared to go back on the baseball diamond, metal bat and all, he did have to give up football, according to doctor’s orders.
“I’m just lucky I’m still here,” Jake said.
South Dakota and New York City have already banned the use of metal bats. But measures that would have banned them in Illinois and in the city of Chicago both failed.
In response to the lawsuit, Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. issued the following statement:
“Easton Bell Sports is saddened to hear of Jake Schutter’s on-field injuries. Easton takes sports safety very seriously, and that commitment is built into every product that carries the Easton name. We are dedicated to safety research and development, with a track record of innovating some of the safest sporting equipment on the market.”