Every season there are usually a few pitchers that take a line drive to the head. It is never a good sight, and is always scary. Thinking about the physics involved is enough to make anyone gun shy.
When a pitcher is on the mound, they are not thinking about their safety or about defense. Their concentration and energy is focused solely on releasing the ball and making the best pitch possible. Even after they do so, there is not much time to react and get in fielding position for a ball coming back at them that could be traveling at close to, if not more than, 100 miles per hour. Sixty feet and six inches is not a long distance at all.
So for some pitchers, Kevin Chapman being one of them, today’s news that major league baseball approved the use of a padded, protective hat for pitchers to wear on the mound is a welcome development. Wearing the hat is not mandatory, but it will help make the pitchers that wear them safer. The impact, and hopefully the injury risk, will now be minimized.
The company says the caps are a little more than a half-inch thicker in the front and an inch thicker on the sides — near the temples — than standard caps, and afford protection for frontal impact locations against line drives of up to 90 mph and for side impact locations at up to 85 mph. The soft padding, isoBlox says, is made of “plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate” and is designed to diffuse energy upon impact through a combination of dispersion and absorption techniques.
More than most, Chapman knows the dangers of being hit in head by a batted ball. At U of Florida he was hit in the head by fouled ball.
“I’ll definitely try it out,” Chapman said of padded caps for pitchers. “It’s something meant to help us and not hurt us.”