hile baseball is a relatively safe sport, injuries still can occur, both for adults and children at play. But you can make the ballfield safer for every one and reduce the chances of injuries.
Q: How can I make our ballfields safer?
A: The authors of a recent study of ballfield injuries published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggested that all leagues, parks and schools install safety bases.
More than half (55 percent) of ballfield injuries to runners occur when they slide into a base, and almost half (47 percent) of all runners' injuries result in fractures. This makes the bases a logical starting point in reducing injuries.
Traditional stationary bases include two parts: a metal post sunk into the ground and fixed in concrete and a pillow base bolted to a metal pole that fits into this base. This results in rigid, unmoving bases—it takes 3,500 pounds of force to dislodge one of these bases.
Newer releasable bases consist of three major parts. Similar to traditional bases, a metal pole is sunk into the ground and fixed in concrete. From there, a rubber mat is bolted to a pole that's inserted into the ground, and a separate pillow then fits onto the rubber mat. When players just step onto the base, it stays in place, but if a runner slides hard into the base, the pillow releases from the mat.
Q: What else should I know?
A: Beginning with the 2008 season, the Little League began requiring all local leagues to use bases that can disengage from the anchor. That means if you have Little League teams playing on your fields and you haven't updated your bases yet, you're behind the times.
You won't need to start from scratch to conform to Little League requirements, though. In most cases, you won't need to make any permanent changes to your existing below-ground infrastructure. Some systems can fit onto base anchors in cement below the ground. And, they're easy to remove after the game.