Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
In a Helena, Montana courtroom on Wednesday afternoon, a 12-member state court jury awarded the family of Brandon Patch, the 18-year-old pitcher who was killed by a ball hit off an aluminum bat on July 25, 2003, the sum of $856,000 from defendant Hillerich & Bradsby (more commonly known as Louisville Slugger). The jury deliberated for a little more than a day and, arguably, has sent a message that may be heard across the country in the continuing battle of metal v. wood bats to be used by the youth of America.
When reached after the verdict, the Patch family’s attorney, Joe White, Jr., exclusively told Kallas Remarks, “we are happy with the jury’s verdict. This case was never about the money for the Patch family and we told the jury that. The jury found that Louisville Slugger failed to warn people about the dangers of the bat made by Louisville Slugger.”
WHY WASN’T IT ABOUT THE MONEY?
Well, the history of the Patch case is a long one. But when the Patch family had to bury their son in 2003, their main goal was to have aluminum bats banned from youth baseball in Montana. The Patch family thought that they would be able to get a law passed in the Montana legislature doing just that. But after some bat company representatives went out to Montana (according to the Patch family), all that was passed was a “resolution,” that is, it was suggested that kids not use aluminum bats in Montana.
Needless to say, once the proposed law became a resolution, virtually every team in Montana continued to use aluminum (Patch’s team, the Miles City Mavericks, used wood). But it was the frustration of the Patch family being unable to get a law passed that led them to filing the lawsuit, virtually towards the end of the statute of limitations period.
Clearly the Patch family was and is hoping that what happened to their son will never happen to anybody else’s son. If you’ve seen Debbie Patch (Brandon’s mother) on HBO or other places, you would view her as a salt-of-the-earth person who really doesn’t want your family or mine to go through what she went through on that fateful day and for years to come.
WILL THIS VERDICT HELP THE CAUSE?
It says here that this is a step in the right direction. These metal bats aren’t the metal bats from the 1970s, which were heavier and not nearly as technologically advanced as the bats of today. The advances over time are, frankly, scary. All you have to do is pitch batting practice to these kids or watch a team that plays with both wood and metal to see the difference. It’s startling.
But the ball is rolling. There’s no metal allowed in New York City high school baseball. There’s no metal allowed in North Dakota. Little Leagues in certain towns (Ridgefield, Ct, for example) are going to all wood, at least until the Williamsport Tournament.
That’s a start.
But, hopefully, this verdict will send a message across the country that bat manufacturers have to be more careful about what they are manufacturing. If you or your child is involved in youth baseball, maybe it’s time to do something, to approach your Little League board, to get the word out: these bats are dangerous.
Remember, the life you save, the massive injury you prevent, may be that of your own child.
We’ll see what happens.
© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.