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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011


Little League Inc. President and CEO Stephen Keener says,
“…Decisions about equipment and safety should be based on science and data,
not on emotion and anecdotal evidence.” [1]

I agree

Youth batting helmets need faceguards

Here’s why:

Baseball and softball are leading causes of sports-related facial trauma in the United States [2]

Using faceguards reduces the risk of facial injuries by 35 percent-according to Little League and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studies. [3] [4]

Baseball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in children and the highest incidence occurs in children 5 to 14 years of age [5]

90 percent of all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eye protection [6]

Baseball is a leading cause of dental injury in youth sports. [7]

The American Association of Orthodontists, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association have issued separate policy statements endorsing the use of faceguards [8]



“Little League continues to endorse options that leagues can implement immediately to further enhance safety…(including) face guards for batting helmets”

-Little League safety newsletter, As Safe As Possible (ASAP) [9]

The number of player injuries is underreported by Little League

Here’s why:

Little League Inc. commonly uses the number of insurance claims paid by Little League insurance as the total number of players’ injuries. Little League insurance is a secondary carrier and all personal insurance coverage must be exhausted in order for Little League insurance to even consider paying a claim.

“The Little League does not keep track of injuries as such, but rather of secondary medical insurance claims. This information may or may not reflect actual injuries.”

- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [10]

Also, it is impossible to provide the number of youth baseball injuries due to the limitations of current hospital coding systems, (ICD-9) which only identify 1/3 of injuries are identifiable as sports injuries, and that injuries treated outside of a game by doctor’s visits and sports medicine clinics are not included in injury totals. [11]

The number of players who have died while playing Little League have not been accurately reported or recorded by Little League headquarters

Here’s how:

At least 62 Little League players have died during official practice or play since 1960  
The names, dates and causes of death appear in this blog

In 1995, Little League International spokesman Dennis Sullivan said he had "no idea" how many Little Leaguers have been fatally injured in the field [12] and in 2004, Little League spokesman Chris Downs said in an interview with USA Today that the organization's records show that no one has died during official league play. [13]

In 1987, Little League Insurance Coordinator Director Daniel Kirby said that from 1963-1987, 42 players, umpires and coaches had died on Little League fields, [14] - but three years later he said that in the history of Little League, there were only two deaths. [15]

We think no injury is acceptable
-Little League President and CEO Stephen Keener [16]
Considering that 2.5 million children play in the Little Leagues every year,
the number of deaths is small

-Daniel Kirby, Director of Risk Management, Little League International [17]

Convicted sex offenders and criminals are serving as volunteers for the Little League organization

Here’s how:

Little League’s minimum volunteer screening requirement is to have names compared against the National Sex Offender Registry (SOR). [18]   Little League International has secured an agreement with LexisNexis to do free background checks, but less than one third of leagues have chosen to do so. [19]

Can't happen here?

Local Little Leagues that voluntarily ordered background checks on more than a quarter million volunteers in a three year period found that two out of every five applicants they screened had a criminal record, including armed robbery, aggravated assault, adult sexual assault, first degree child molestation, indecent assault to a child under 16 year old, aggravated child abuse - and murder. [20]

At last year’s meeting of the Little League Congress, Dan Kirby said that only 700,000 people are listed in the National Sex Offender Registry, whereas there are 101 million people in LexisNexis’ database. [21]   Many crimes that involve children, such as providing alcohol/drugs to minors, physical abuse, danger and neglect are not listed on the national SORs. [22]  

In addition, sex-related crimes are often pleaded down to lesser offenses which are not found on SORs. [23] 
“It is not uncommon for sex crimes to be reduced to a lesser offense from the original charge, keeping that person’s name from being listed on a sex offender registry and keeping your league from knowing of the offense if you do a minimum check of all state SORs”, Kirby said. [24]



Little League is a game built on tradition…”don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”…




[1] Keener, S., (2007, Aug 16), Little League Makes the Case for Metal,
[2] Bak MJ, Doerr TD; 2004. Craniomaxillofacial Fractures during Recreational Baseball and Softball. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2004 Oct; 62 (10):1209-12
[3] Marshall, S.W.; Mueller, F.O. &  Kirby, D.P. ; et al. (2003).Evaluation of Safety Baseballs and Faceguards for Prevention of Injuries in Youth Baseball; JAMA. , 289(5):568-574 (doi:10.1001/jama.289.5.568)
[4] Kyle SB. Youth Baseball Protective Equipment Project Final Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, May 1996
[5] American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement (2006, May 1)
[6] Prevent Blindness America press release, Leading Cause of Blindness in School-Aged Children Can Be Avoided Through Proper Sports Eye Protection (2008, Sept. 3)
[7]Danis, R.P.  Et al (2000) Acceptability of Baseball Faceguards and Reduction of Oculofacial Injury in Receptive Youth League Players, Injury Prevention, 6;232-234 
[8]American Association of Orthodontists website (, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (, and the American Dental Association ( websites
[9] Little League safety newsletter ASAP (2006, Feb.-Mar.), Vol.13, No.2
[10] Letter from Todd Stevenson, Secretary of the CPSC to J.M McKay re: Petition CP 00-1, dated April 6, 2002
[11] Micheli, L., Glassman, R. and Klein, M., (2000, Oct., The Prevention of Sports Injuries in Children, Clinic in Sports Medicine, Vol. 19 No. 4
[12] Granberry, M., (1995, May 8), 'Safety' Ball Strikes Out in Laguna Niguel, Los Angeles Times
[13] Yoo, I., (2004, July 25), Rare, Fatal Injury Baffles Science, Sports;
[14] Yanarella, J. and Saltzman, J, (1987, April 24), Untitled, USA Today
[15] Ovack, K. & Duryea, B (1990, March 20), Family, Ballplayers Struggle with Little Leaguer’s Death, St. Petersburg, (FL) Times
[16] Associated Press, (2007, July 8), How Safe Are Metal Bats? The Time-Leader (Wilkes Barre, PA.)
[17]Yanarella, J. and Saltzman, J, (1987, April 24), Untitled, USA Today
[18] Little League Baseball and Softball Media Guide, 2008
[19] Little League Background Check Presentation Presented by LexisNexis Screening Solutions, 2011
[20] Author not indicated, (2010, April/May), Use Your Free Checks! Little League Safety Newsletter As Safe As Possible (ASAP), April/May 2010 Vol.7 No. 2
[21] Author unknown, (2007, April) Background Checks: Check ‘Em for Free, ASAP Little League Inc. safety newsletter Vol. 14 No.3
[22] IBID
[23] Little League Mandatory Background Checks Utilizing ChoicePoint 2006 Review
[24] Author unknown, (2010, April/May), Use Your Free Checks! ASAP Little League Inc. newsletter Vol. 17 #2

Who I am

First, I will tell you who I’m not. I’m not a lawyer or a reporter. I’m not employed by anyone or any organization remotely related to baseball. I have no financial interest in anything sports, security or safety-related. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I am not a “Little League basher.” 

Who I am is a mom of a Little Leaguer. I love baseball, I love my son and I am the wife of a United States soldier.  

About three years ago, my son was hit by a baseball in the mouth. I went online to see if I could find out how to prevent split lips in baseball-was it his batting stance, I thought, or something else? What happened was I came across endorsements from the American Medical Association and Consumer Product Safety Commission for batting helmets with faceguards.  I thought...hmmmm…were there others?

As I continued to read, I was surprised by the sheer volume of medical, safety and sports organizations that endorsed them. I wondered why I had never seen players use them. I became more and more interested in youth baseball safety. Quite by accident, I stumbled upon a different type of information-this time about player deaths, sex offenders and criminals as volunteers and my concerns about Little League’s safety program grew. They’re the largest youth sports organization in the world and what they do is watched by youth baseball programs around the world! I started my own research. That was three years ago.

Since I began pursuing safety reforms, I have been in contact with USA Baseball many times. I have contacted Little League Baseball (who have threatened me with legal action-more about that later), the President of the American Medical Association, the President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Marc Klaas, President of KlaasKids and many, many others.

What you see on these pages is the results of a one woman, grass roots campaign to persuade Little League to make safety reforms that make sense. At first, I tried to “give away” the information I had accumulated to various safety organizations, but they all said the same thing-that they had been singing their safety song to Little League for years and it had all fallen on deaf ears. Making any headway in these efforts would require not an organization, but a face, they said. I didn’t want to be that face and I resisted for a long, long time. I’m a mom, I thought, not an outspoken advocate who wants to “go public.”

 That all changed because of two things. One concerned the death of ten year old Little Leaguer William “Ryan” Wojick. He was playing Little League baseball in Florida when he was hit in the chest with a baseball. He died in 1990 as a result of that injury. Nearly twenty years later, the Little League organization stated that, “No one had died in official Little League practice or play since 1990.” Spokesmen for the organization, including Little League President and CEO Stephen Keener were interviewed about Ryan’s death at the time it happened-and now they didn’t remember? I felt angry and sad for the Wojick family and the disrespect that this showed their little boy. They remain strangers to me, but there but for the grace of God goes any of the players we love and I found Little League’s act of omission a disgrace to Ryan’s memory.

The second thing I realized was that the Little League organization is accountable to no one-except the American people. Not even USA Baseball, the organization to which all baseball organizations belong. All USA Baseball could do, Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler wrote to me, was to make strong recommendations for changes, but whether or not they would happen would be up to Little League Inc.
I have two versions of the blog posted here and you can look at either or both. “The short of it” simply highlights the facts; “The long of it” includes all details with citations about why Little League’s safety program desperately needs change.

Getting back to the legal action…In November of 2009, Keener responded to one of my emails with a cease and desist request-that the words in the subject line of my email, “Little League allows convicted sex offenders as volunteers/Number of deaths of Little League players underreported” were defamatory and untrue. But, the thing is, both he and Paul Seiler and others have read letters from me with the information and supporting data that it IS true. 

He advised me that his legal counsel would be in touch with me. I felt I had come so far and had so much to tell them, I thought-great! Progress! But they never contacted me, so I contacted them. After placing a number of phone calls that were never returned, I thought email might be the way to go. From September to November of last year, I sent Attorney Thomas C. Marshall four emails. After each one, Marshall responded, saying that he’d been busy, etc. etc. but that he would provide a written response to the letters I wrote Keener by the end of that week-and the time would come and go and I’d recontact him the following week and he’d say definitely by the end of that week, then the time would come and go and so on. Talk about can’t get arrested in this town!

Please read on, though I may joke from time to time, this is a very serious subject. It’s the life of your child that’s at stake. These are the things that you need to know. As one Little League safety newsletter headline reads, “Think you know someone? Think again!”

This is not about my child nor is it a local issue at all. It is about all of our children and what is happening in Little League baseball nationwide.

What I hope will happen is that, after you read the long or short version, is that you sign the petition attached to this blog, which demands that Little League make safety reforms.

There is no other way-it’s up to us to turn the tide to make the game safer with these changes now or no one will. 

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.