Research by ASU Graduate Students Hopes to Strike Out Injuries

JUNE 17, 2004 -- Posted at: 6:45pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Ryan Cupp's grandfather, Junior Dowdy, enjoys watching this young baseball player learn the game he loves.

"I pitched, and had to go in the service during the winter time," explained Dowdy.

Dowdy said his grandson wants to pitch, just like his grandpa, but after his experience, he thinks Cupp may want to pick another position.

"I pitched nine nights in a row in relief, and my arm got sore," added Dowdy, "that ended my career at that time."

As a former professional baseball player, and an umpire, Randy Phillips sees that many young players experience injuries similar to adults who play the game.

So, he and others at Arkansas State wanted to see what could be done to reduce those statistics.

Phillips explained, "All of the other sports, like basketball and football, reduce the size and weight of their ball to help the kids able to perform better, so baseball doesn't do that."

The researchers found by reducing the weight of the baseball by just one ounce, or 11 pennies, injuries decrease.

"..and at the same time they were able to throw the ball faster, they had a small reduction in the forces and torque about their throwing arms," Phillips added.

He admits improper technique contributes to the injuries.

Knowing the fundamentals of throwing is what Doug Strickel stresses to his players and his son.

"I see a lot of kids doing some things that could really damage their shoulder, damage their elbow, things like that," said Strickel. "Just trying to teach that, get them in good habits, makes a big difference."

Ryan's Grandpa said he won't discourage his grandson from pitching.. but he'd rather see him play another position.

Junior Dowdy said, "If you can hit, why you can play every day, maybe make more money down the road some where."