Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ took a line drive to the head Tuesday night — and didn’t get a concussion. He suffered a fracture behind his right ear, that’s all, miraculously.
But the incident resurrected talk about ways to protect pitchers’ noggins when a well-hit baseball, with the power of a bullet, hits their head.
There were a crop of stories on the topic, with several of them including interviews with Arizona Diamondback pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who was struck in the head by a line drive while pitching for Oakland last September. McCarthy was pitching for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, just hours after Happ was hit.
McCarthy wasn’t as lucky as Happ when he was hit by the ball last fall. He had to have emergency brain surgery.
The New York Times did the most detailed story about efforts by Major League Baseball to develop a helmet that would help pitchers. The league has met with numerous helmet manufacturers, The Times reported.
As it turned out, according to The Times, McCarthy is not a big advocate of helmets, even after hearing about Happ being hit in the head like he was. On Twitter this week, McCarthy argued that he and Happ were struck near the ear, an area that headgear won’t protect.
According to The Times, McCarthy also pointed out that a minor league coach was hit and killed by a line drive in 2007 and that he was struck in the neck, a spot that a helmet would not have protected. McCarthy was in favor of helmets on one condition — if they really worked.
But The Times also reported that some pitchers were weary of trying to wear headgear, which they feared could affect their pitching form.
New York Mets relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins flat out said he wouldn’t wear a helmet.
“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard … Can you imagine going out there and trying to pitch with a football helmet on?” he told The Times.
Despite what Hawkins says, the MLB should continue to seek out a helmet option for pitchers that doesn’t hamper their style and effectiveness, yet protects them from getting their blocks knocked off.