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The debate: Metal vs. wood

Foothill coaches give their take on AB7

Posted: May 8, 2010 9:37 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.
The Foothill League's six coaches all gave their opinions on AB7, the bill that would place a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats in the state of California.

The bill was introduced by State Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and will next be discussed by the state Senate before it is put to a vote.

That could be a matter of weeks.

According to Huffman, Marin County baseball teams have made the switch to wood bats after a March 11 incident in which a high school pitcher from Marin Catholic High School named Gunnar Sandberg was struck in the head by a line drive.

Metal bats have been banned in New York City and North Dakota.

Some local coaches are for AB7, others are against it. Some offered solutions.

Here are their thoughts:

Jim Ozella, Hart High head coach:
On AB7: "I think the law would be a little reactionary. It's highly reactionary after the kid got hit. Don't get me wrong, I can see where they're coming from on it."

On going to wood bats: "Going all wood would certainly hurt the financial (state) of a baseball program. Why not be on the same standard as the NCAA (in which aluminum bats are used but are tested under a different system than at the high school level). There's a middle ground. Go to the middle ground you can afford. It would be difficult to afford the wood."

John Maggiora, Saugus High head coach
On AB7: "I would stay with aluminum."

On a solution: "I think they need to increase the ounceage on bats."

On those who say wood bats would be too expensive: "I don't think it's about money."

Jared Snyder, Valencia High head coach
On metal versus wood: "I've tested bats for Easton the last 11 years. I've seen the data. I've seen the research. I'm telling you, the theory that wood bats are safer is just not true. Any ball hitting off a round bat at 90 miles per hour is dangerous."

On if cost is the main issue for him being against AB7: "Absolutely it's the cost. This is utterly ridiculous. A lot of us barely have enough money to run our programs. ... We're cutting education for children K through 12 and we're spending time on a baseball bat?"

Scott Drootin, Golden Valley head coach
On wooden bats: "I don't have a problem with wooden bats. We swing all winter with wooden bats. I think it makes the kids stronger. I'm kind of old school. I grew up swinging wood bats. There's nothing like the good sweet smell of the wood when you hit it right."

Adam Schulhofer, Canyon High head coach
On AB7: "What I find troubling is the interference by the state Legislature. To what degree are they going to try and control the game? It opens the door to that. ... I'm undecided on it. I just don't like the intrusion at the state level."

Casey Burrill, West Ranch High coach
During spring break, West Ranch participated in a wood-bat tournament. The tournament was changed to all wood bats in honor of Sandberg after Marin Catholic head coach Mike Firenzi suggested that all teams use wood bats. Marin County played in the tournament.

On AB7: "Based upon what we experienced, I thought it was fun. I would be in favor of wood."

On what convinced him: "All the coaches got together for dinner (after the opening ceremonies of the tournament). The head coach from Marin Catholic is seated next to me. I, like all the other coaches, can't wait to hear about his experience and his thoughts on wooden bats. He said the outpouring from the community and the baseball community was something like he's never seen. The night after his kid got hit, he got a phone call from a mom of a kid who was killed by a ball off a metal bat in high school. He's telling us the story and we're entranced. He got off the phone and said to his wife his team will never, ever play with metal bats again. I'll never forget the story. He convinced me."


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