There won't be a ban on metal bats in California, but the standards to use one will be much tighter.
That's what came out of the Wednesday press conference held by the California Interscholastic Federation and Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) at the state capitol in Sacramento.
The CIF will implement the new national BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) performance standards for composite bats a year early - the NHFS rules go into effect in 2012 - and accelerate new performance standards for aluminum bats in the 2010-11 season.
In addition, all non-wood bats must be stamped with a no-tampering decal to combat bat rolling, among other performance-enhancing tools that lead to livelier bats and less safety.
"In addition to addressing safety issues raised by legislators, our approach is intended to minimize the fiscal impact on schools and families who could otherwise have been required to purchase expensive bats twice, for both the 2011 and 2012 season," CIF State Executive Director Marie Ishida said in a release. "Our decision helps protect the integrity of baseball by weeding out modified high-performance bats that provide an unfair advantage and have no place on the baseball diamond."
The press conference and legislation was spurred after 16-year-old
Gunnar Sandberg sustained a severe head injury and spent weeks in a
coma last spring when hit with a batted ball from of an
The incident and injury led to Huffman's AB7 bill that sought to ban non-wood bats until new safety standards were adopted. He said Wednesday that he will withdraw his proposed two-year moratorium on metal bats after working closely with the CIF the last two months.
Huffman praised CIF for what he called a “great outcome” that should
have far-reaching impacts.
"My preference was always to see this issue
resolved by the baseball community, not the Legislature, and that’s what
we've accomplished here," Huffman said. "This agreement moves
California high school baseball in the direction of increasing the
safety of student athletes and will hopefully avoid traumatic injuries
like the one suffered by Gunnar Sandberg, by accelerating more
protective rules that will bring metal bat performance closer to that of
Sandberg's father Bjorn Sandberg, present at the press conference, said he is encouraged by the new legislation.
“Assemblymember Huffman's agreement with CIF is a big step in the right
direction," he said. "As well as the
stricter bat standards, I'm also in full support of the development of
safety headgear for pitchers and I'm sure that it can be designed and
produced to be safe and comfortable. As I've stated from the very
beginning, anything we can do to make baseball safer for the pitchers is
Huffman's bill passed the Senate Education Committee on May 5, 2010, and
was held on the senate floor pending discussions with the CIF. The two
sides reached an agreement last week and Huffman withdrew the bill from
the floor now that the CIF has committed to a two-year plan to increase
safety standards in both high school baseball and softball.
On Friday (Aug. 6), the State CIF Executive Committee ratified the following actions:
performance standards for non-wooden baseball bats are accelerated to
the 2011 season for California high school baseball, provided only that
BBCOR-compliant bats are commercially available on Jan. 1, 2011. The
new BBCOR standard for 2011 includes Accelerated Break-In (ABI) testing,
to ensure bat performance cannot be enhanced beyond the testing
* CIF will propose to the NFHS Baseball and Softball Rules
Committees that they develop standards for protective headgear for
baseball and softball pitchers, defensive infielders and base coaches in
* For the 2011 season, CIF will encourage member schools
to voluntarily require protective headgear for baseball and softball
pitchers, defensive infielders as allowed by NFHS rules, and base
* CIF will consider making these protective headgear provisions mandatory for California Schools by 2012.
Huffman said the headgear provisions are equal to bat revisions.
"A few years from now, baseball and softball pitchers at all levels, and in all states, will take for granted the protective headgear they wear," he said. "And people will look back to Gunnar Sandberg’s story, to AB7, and to CIF's leadership, as catalysts for this important change.”
MaxPreps senior writers Kevin Askeland and Mitch Stephens contributed to this report.