Today’s New York Times Magazine contains a fascinating story on the tremendous harm done to young baseball pitchers’ arms, due to overuse and under-caring.
The piece, it turns out, has a strong Westport connection.
It’s not — fortunately — about local athletes. Westport’s youth coaches do a good job of counting pitches.
The connection is the writer. Ron Berler grew up here. A 1967 Staples grad, he was the Wall in the Staples Players’ production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He became an actor after being cut as a sophomore during baseball tryouts — “a wise decision” on the coach’s part, he now says.
Ron did play Westport Little League — “the last time I was an All-Star in anything.”
But he’s always loved the game, and while driving to his weekly Sunday morning softball game he listens to Rick Wolff on WFAN.
Shortly after last year’s Little League World Series, the talk show host mentioned that a pitcher had thrown 288 pitches during the tournament — over just 10 days. Ron was stunned. He had coached youth baseball for 17 years. A writer for Wired, Men’s Journal and ESPN.com, he “pitched” (ho ho) the Times. The result is today’s eye-opening piece.
“I hope the article will lead parents to demand changes in how youth baseball leagues are run,” Ron says. “It’s their kids who are at risk.
“At the same time I hope Little League — which has done more than any other youth league to protect its players — does not end up shouldering all the blame.
“Yes, Little League needs to address its relaxed pitching rules during the World Series tournament. But the real problem lies with the thousands of kids who play on multiple teams, many of them with overlapping schedules, for coaches who do not communicate with one another, and who pitch their players way too much.”
Amen. And let’s thank all the Westport coaches who are not caught up in such craziness.
Westport Little League baseball is moving to all wood bats this fall; an experiment which might be continued in the spring.