James Falzon was sitting along the third base line at a Mets-Braves game in 2007 when Luis Castillo’s bat shattered, sending the barrel flying towards his face and resulting in some pretty massive injuries. Falzon is now suing the Mets, Castillo, former Met Ramon Castro — who owned the bat — Major League Baseball and Rawlings, the bat’s manufacturer.
The reason: it was a maple bat, and baseball already knew by 2007 that maple bats had a propensity to shatter like that.
This is not the first time someone has been seriously hurt by a shattering maple bat. Pirates’ coach Don Long was victimized by a bat shard a few years ago. So was Dodgers fan Susan Long. They aren’t the only ones and they certainly won’t be the last.
I don’t know whether the risks posed by maple bats are enough to convince a jury that injuries they cause are actionable at law. But I do know this much: baseball has long acknowledged the dangers of maple bats and multiple studies have shown that they provide no tangible benefit to hitters over their less-prone-to-shatter ash counterparts. Despite this, Major League Baseball and the players’ association have done nothing about it.