Use Illegal Bats, Go To Prison?

As printed from the Sept. 7, 2012 Issue of Collegiate Baseball


Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — High school baseball players, parents and bat doctoring firms may now face civil, and possibly criminal action, if illegal bats are used in games during the 2013 season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations’ Baseball Rules Committee put more teeth into the rule that prohibits the use of illegal, high performing bats during its summer meeting.

The new note in Rule 1-3-2 is as follows: “The NFHS has been advised that certain manufacturers consider alteration, modification and ‘doctoring’ of their bats to be unlawful and subject to civil and, under certain circumstances, criminal action.

“Not only is it a violation of NFHS baseball rules to alter a non-wood bat, this new language emphasizes that an individual could be subjected to a civil or criminal lawsuit for tampering with a bat,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services and staff liaison to the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee.

Collegiate Baseball received reports from high school coaches across the nation last season concerning illegal, doctored bats used in games that performed at a higher level than regulation BBCOR certified bats.

Hopkins said that illegal bat use has been a problem in California and Arizona and has spread across the nation.

“This problem became a bigger issue in the western part of the nation (California and Arizona) and then impacted teams across the rest of the nation in the midwest, east, north and southern parts of the country,” said Hopkins.

He said that the new note to the Rule Book regarding the use of illegal, altered bats is aimed at companies that alter bats and high school players and parents who choose to purchase them.

“Both parties are complicit. It’s similar to drug dealers and those purchasing the drugs. Both are guilty of crimes. We are going after the bat doctor who modifies original equipment to make them ‘hotter.’ This new passage also goes after the player or parent who purchases these illegal bats.”

Hopkins said several lawyers were involved in the new addition to the bat rule.

“The wording is very precise and was crafted by attorneys with the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Our attorney with the NFHS looked at it as well. We felt it was imperative to have this collaborative work done, and frankly it is some of the best work we have done with this issue.

“We are serious in stopping this illegal bat situation because it isn’t going away. We will fight tooth and nail to make sure original equipment is not altered or modified which might hurt someone.

“If we bump heads with some big time bat doctors, so be it. It is the goal of the SGMA and the High School Federation that altered bats are not used in high school baseball. There is enough of a risk of being injured with legal bats without having players utilize doctored bats that may hit the ball harder.”

Hopkins was asked how a bat will be confiscated during a game if it is a suspected illegal bat.

Collegiate Baseball wanted to know if umpires have the authority to take the bat out of play if someone gets injured by a hard hit ball or if a coach or athletics director has the right to do this. After all, if you don’t confiscate a suspected bat to have it tested, then there will never be any proof that an illegal bat was used after the game finishes.

Read More: The complete story about illegal bat use is in the Sept. 7, 2012 edition of Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

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