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Problem Solver - August 2013

Improve Safety on the Ballfield

Baseball might not be a very dangerous sport, but injuries can occur from time to time. The most common injuries occur when runners slide into a base—representing about 55 percent of ballfield injuries. And, nearly half of runner's injuries—around 47 percent—result in fractures. Though it's impossible to prevent 100 percent of injuries, it is possible to make your ballfields safer and protect players of all ages from the injuries that occur when they slide into bases.

Q: How can we improve safety by focusing on bases?

A: Parks, leagues and schools that want to improve safety on the baseball field should install releasable bases. Many Little Leagues actually require such bases, and a recent study in Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests this measure to help reduce injuries.

Q: How do releasable bases work?

A: With a traditional stationary base, a metal post is sunk into the ground and fixed in concrete. Then a pillow base is bolted to a metal pole that fits into this base, resulting in a rigid, unmoving base. In fact, it takes 3,500 pounds of force to dislodge a traditional stationary base.

Newer releasable bases are made up of three major parts. As with a traditional base, a metal pole is sunk into the ground and fixed in concrete. Then a rubber mat is bolted to a pole that's inserted into the ground. A separate pillow then fits onto the rubber mat. If a player steps on the base, it stays put. However, runners who slide hard into the base will cause the pillow to release from the mat.

Q: What else should I know?

A: The Little League has required all of its local leagues to use bases that disengage from the anchor. That means that if Little League teams are relying on your fields, you'll have to install this type of base to be in compliance with the organization's rules.

But don't worry. You don't need to rebuild your entire ballfield. In most cases, no permanent changes to the existing below-ground infrastructure of your field are necessary. Some systems fit onto base anchors in cement below the ground. And it's easy to remove and store the bases when the game is over.


Soft Touch Bases