New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday he’ll veto a bill passed last month to outlaw metal bats from high school baseball in the nation’s largest school system, which some believe would make the game safer.
"I don’t know whether aluminum bats are more dangerous or less dangerous,"
said Bloomberg. "But I don’t think it’s the city’s business to regulate that."
It appeared, however, that the City Council would have enough votes to override a veto. The bill passed last month by 40 to 6, so it likely has the support for the necessary two-thirds majority, and the council is expected to take it up this month.
Similar measures have been proposed by youth leagues and lawmakers in other states, including New Jersey, where a batted ball struck a 12-year-old boy in the chest, sending him into cardiac arrest.
Sponsors of New York City’s bill say that non-wood bats make faster and harder hits, and that this can be dangerous for young players in the path of the balls. Some say they can be injured because they have less time to react.
Opponents of the City Council’s measure, including Little League Baseball and sporting goods makers, say there is no scientific evidence proving metal bats pose more of a risk. They say the anti-metal movement relies on emotional anecdotes over concrete data, and some have indicated they will take the matter to court.
The question has been debated for about as long as metal bats have been in use since the 1970s. In 2005, an American Legion Baseball study found no substantial scientific proof to support the argument that wooden bats are safer than metal bats.
Bloomberg said the decision about which type of bats to use should be left to those in charge of youth leagues, and not lawmakers.
"There are risks in everything," he said. "We want to reduce the risks as much as possible, we don’t want to destroy tradition of the game, but that’s up for the people running the sports."
He said professional players have called him and argued both sides of the case.
While the measure was being considered by the council, former New York Mets relief pitcher John Franco testified in support of the ban, while Yankees starting pitcher Mike Mussina came out against it.