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Baseball groups want NYC metal-bat ban halted

NEW YORK -- Sporting goods companies and organizations that sponsor high school baseball nationwide asked a federal court Monday to step to the plate and strike down a new city law that bans metal baseball bats in high school games.


A lawsuit against New York City was filed by USA Baseball, a Raleigh, N.C.-based national governing body for several baseball associations, and The National High School Baseball Coaches Association, based in Tempe, Ariz., along with four sporting goods companies and several fathers of ballplayers.


The city law department had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and had no immediate comment, said spokeswoman Kate O'Brien Ahlers.


Proponents of the new law -- set to take effect in September -- say metal bats increase the risk of injury because they cause balls to move faster, giving young players less time to react. But an American Legion Baseball study in 2005 found no substantial scientific proof that wooden bats are safer than metal bats.


Similar bans are under discussion in other areas including New Jersey, where a 12-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest he was struck in the chest by a ball.


The lawsuit says New York City's law would harm high school players, coaches, schools and bat manufacturers because it would increase costs for players and teams and would make high school baseball less enjoyable and less competitive.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the bat ban last month, saying it was an issue for those who run youth leagues, not the government. The City Council then overwhelmingly overrode the veto.


Former New York Mets relief pitcher John Franco testified in support of the ban at a council hearing, while New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said there was no evidence that metal bats were dangerous.


The lawsuit maintains the law is unconstitutional because it discriminates against the use of metal and nonwood composite bats without any rational basis.