Pitchers to test padded hats in effort to reduce head injuries

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In what seems like a compromise between their current lack of protection and wearing a full-on helmet on the mound MLB will have pitchers test a padded hat in an effort to reduce head injuries.

Willie Weinbaum of ESPN.com reports that “at least a dozen” pitchers have been given the padded hats made by Unequal Technologies Company to try and offers some more specifics about the product:

Unequal’s padding for each cap weighs 4.3 ounces, is one eighth-of-an-inch thick and is made of a three-layer synthetic composite that includes military grade DuPont Kevlar and a polymer with the properties of rubber. He also said Unequal could mass produce the cap padding and sell it as an insert for about $60 apiece retail.

Unequal isn’t alone in providing pitchers headgear for MLB’s consideration. MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said Monday that discussions are being held between Unequal and five other companies whose products are in different stages of development and use different materials.

Apparently the padded hats have been in development for a while now, but MLB and the various companies pushed up the timetable following head injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Doug Fister this year. However, in McCarthy’s case it’s unclear if the padded hat would have protected him based on where the ball struck.

According to Weinbaum the products could be used in the minor leagues as soon as this upcoming season.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.