Easton-Bell Sports CEO Paul Harrington joined representatives from Little League International and the California Interscholastic Federation on Monday to unveil a new helmet prototype designed to help protect pitchers on the mound. "With our pitching helmet prototype, we have redefined what is possible and launched a new era of protection for baseball pitchers," Harrington said from the manufacturer's new Helmet Technology Center in Scotts Valley, Calif.

The prototype was developed, Harrington said, to protect players like Gunnar Sandberg, the 17-year old Marin (Calif.) Catholic High School pitcher who suffered life-threatening injuries last March when he was on the mound and hit in the head by a batted ball. Sandberg, who attended the product introduction and will be testing the prototype for comfort and performance, was placed in a medically induced coma to save his life after his skull was fractured and his brain swelled.

Now recovered and back on the field, Sandberg is striving - along with his family - to improve safety for baseball players and help prevent other families from suffering similar tragedies. "The time is right to introduce headgear that is well designed, comfortable and, more than anything, protective for the pitchers and fielders," says Bjorn Sandberg, Gunnar's father. "We are on board to help minimize the risk."

The pitching helmet prototype uses lightweight energy-managing materials to provide protection to the most vulnerable areas of the head, without compromising comfort or performance, Easton-Bell officials say. The helmet is made of expanded polystyrene polycarbonate, which is attached to a liner and elastic strap.

Defensive players and umpires not behind home plate remain the last individuals on the field without stronger head protection. First- and third-base coaches for Major League Baseball teams began wearing head protection following the death of Mike Coolbaugh, a first-base coach for the Colorado Rockies' Double-A team in Tulsa, Okla., who was struck by a line drive in July 2007. College and high school rules mandate that baseball and softball players also wear helmets in coach's boxes.

In related news, the National Federation of State High School Associations has outlawed composite baseball bats for the 2010-11 school year. The ban will remain in effect until composite bats - constructed with the same aluminum exterior as standard aluminum bats, but with a woven graphite wall on the interior - can meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) performance standard, which measures the "bounciness" of the ball and bat. Before the composite bat is reinstated at the prep level, the committee also wants it to produce consistent results throughout its life, be labeled as a composite product and be made tamper-evident.

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CAN THESE HELMETS BE PURCHASED AT THIS TIME?
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According to a spokesperson for the company, 'Easton-Bell Sports is hoping to have the product available for sale on store shelves this fall.'

Michael Popke
Managing Editor
Athletic Business
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This does not come as a surprise to me. In fact, I saw this coming 20 years ago when I was attempting to introduce a very stylish helmet line to the bicycle and ski markets. Most injuries are preventable when a proactive concern for safety is actionable.
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This a great idea and should be used by all fielders. Little league coach for 15 years plus.
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We need these now for two kids who recently recovered from brain injuries. Mine is now benched for same for at least 6 months if ever cleared. I am searching for his head protection should he return.
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The Easton helmet design has only one flaw that I can see.

It blocks the pitcher's vision to the right side (to second base). The extension should be thinner and extend downward farther before being extended forward to protect lower eye socket and right cheek-bone, as well as backward and slightly upward to partially cover the ear.
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It's 2013 and I still haven't seen 'the dome' for sale anywhere. I'd really like to purchase one for my 11 year old son who pitches in little league. Can anyone provide me with information for when they will become available before another accident happens. Thank you.
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Our team has been using Helmet & Pad Disinfectant wipes which allows us to share helmets without our players getting a skin issue or head lice. I think a company called Matguard makes it. Might be a good idea for using for this pitchers helmet or batting helmets, Just a thought...
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My 15 year old freshman pitcher just got hit right face, mutiple facial fractures, maxillary sinus and floor of orbit of eye all damaged, Please, what can protect a pitchers face, keep from losing an eye. Along with protecting head....