An accident during a junior baseball game at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Kansas tragically left a nine-year-old boy dead, highlighting ongoing concerns for player safety in the game irrespective of the level of professionalism. As UK Independent reported, Kaiser Carlile was volunteering as bat boy for the summer league ‘Liberal Bee Jays’ when he was accidentally hit by a batter taking practice swings, and treated on-site by a paramedic for head injuries. He sadly passed away on the following evening. The tragedy has resulted in the Congress banning the use of bat boys for the remainder of the Championships. While he had been wearing a helmet, as is mandatory for bystanders and players alike, it did not sustain the impact of the blow.
The National Society to Prevent Blindness in America rates baseball as a moderate to high risk sport, noting the high number of fatalities in leagues that range from grassroots to professional. In the ‘bat-and-ball’ games of baseball and cricket, risk management measures range from safety equipment to the rules of the game. However it seems that mitigating the risk of player, fielder and spectator injury from errant balls, bowls and swings is particularly difficult. The immense speed at which balls can travel by a struck a ball cannot always be contained by safety equipment.
The tragic passing of cricketing champion, batsman Phillip Hughes last year serves as a reminder of the risks in playing the game. He was killed by a ball in a ‘freak accident’, as the Daily Telegraph then reported; while the likelihood of his fatal injury occurring was ‘rare’, the risk of harm in playing cricket is inherent. While learning safer techniques and protective equipment may go some way in protecting the facial safety of players, for baseballers and cricketers alike, the risk of injury is foreseeable and it currently remains up to individual players – or in junior sport, their parents – as to whether the rewards of the sport are worth the risk.