The death of a young baseball player in Illinois has demonstrated the need for comprehensive data on youth sports injuries. Extensive data are available for high school and collegiate sports, but not for participants in sports who are younger than high school age even though they face many of the same risks of injuries. In addition to injuries from accidents and ordinary game play, children face the risk of injury from faulty or defective athletic equipment, particularly protective gear.
A 12 year-old baseball player from Oswego, Illinois died on April 12, 2012 due to an injury sustained during a game. Eric Lederman was warming up on the side of the field, playing catch with a teammate. The ball reportedly struck him in the neck, hitting his carotid artery. He collapsed immediately, and was taken to the hospital. Doctors pronounced him dead shortly after 8:00 p.m. that night. They ruled the death an accident, the result of head trauma causing a cerebral hemorrhage.
Lederman had played baseball for five years, including three years with the league’s traveling team. He played center field, third base, and catcher. He was reportedly warming up for the catcher position at the time of the accident. A league spokesperson did not know if he was wearing protective gear, or if it would have made any difference if he were. The league has reviewed its safety regulations in response to Lederman’s death, and they have conducted a safety inspection of all their equipment.