Baseball is a fairly safe sport, but injuries do occur, both for children and adults. The good news is, you can make the ballfield safer and reduce the chances of injuries.
Q: What can we do to improve safety on our ballfield?
A: More than half (55 percent) of ballfield injuries to runners happen when sliding into a base, and almost half (47 percent) of all runner's injuries result in fractures. That's why installing safety bases at leagues, parks and schools makes sense. In fact, a study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggested this measure to reduce ballfield 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, you need to install this type of base to comply with their requirements. In fact, all leagues—whether youth or adult—will benefit from the increased safety of this type of base.
You won't need to start from scratch, 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.