Article Overview:   Bashing a child's head with a baseball bat can be both an act of intended or unintended violence.  Yesterday, my granddaughter got hit in the head with a bat.   It taught me to be a better Coach of Vigilance.


Saturday--July 26, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 682
Bashing A Child's Head With A Baseball Bat:  The Ugliest Sound
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 26, 2003-- Real Terrorism is hearing your five-year-old granddaughter's head being smashed by a baseball bat.
    It's a sickening sound, equal to that of someone dropping a watermelon from five stories onto concrete.
    The accident happened a few feet to my left rear as I was coaching Little League batting with young kids from the East Village.   I was insuring the kids stayed back from the batter, but didn't catch sight of an older boy who had slipped in behind me and was practicing his batting swing.  He was the brother of one of the younger kids who range from 5 years up to eight.

I am not equipped with a hundred eyes like Argus

     I have enough experience to be wary of kids and bats, and don't allow kids to swing the bat unless supervised.    But, I am not Argus.  He had a hundred eyes and I have only two.
     My granddaughter was helping me catch slow pitches.  We stood well back from the batter.   Then she dashed to the right and behind me to chase a ball, and smack into the boy standing near the fence swinging the bat.
     Wood and flesh met in a hollow crunch of flesh and bone.
     Violent attacks on the human body by weapons of mass potential destruction such as a swinging, unsupervised bat around a Little League Field, rank with suicide bombers and snipers in Iraq--at least they have the same devastating effect when the victim of the assault is one of your children or grandchildren, or, for that matter, any innocent child.
      Violence can be intended or unintended.  It has its own nature.  It exists in a category by itself.
      Unintended violence could be as mundane as a carload of kids on their way to baseball practice suffering a blowout, the car careening and overturning, injuring the occupants.  Or, it could be the result of a drunk driver blowing through a stop sign and broad siding the children-packed vehicle.
      Being at the wrong place at the wrong time is not healthy.

      Take lightening strikes for example.   I don't think people jump to some "X" on the ground in hopes of being hit by a bolt.   But, from 1940 to 1988, 7,741 deaths have been reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
      In the U.S. an estimated 20 to 30 million children play organized sports.   One of the big questions is safety.   Injuries happen.   I went to the Little League website and garnered the following statistics and thought of our casualties in Iraq in comparison.  


In 1997 alone, nearly 60,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for in-line skating-related injuries, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign (NSKC). Among the same ages in the same year, more than 150,000 football injuries and 200,000 basketball injuries were treated, NSKC reported. That year, NKSC said, more than 125,000 baseball and softball injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide. However, only 70 injuries in Little League Baseball and Softball activities, ages 5 to 18, were reported that year.
Participation Figures in Little League Baseball and Softball, U.S.*
  1992  1999
Baseball 2,389,320 2,518,755
Softball 299,910 392,370
Totals 2,689,230 2,911,125

      But I kept going back to the effect a sports injury has on children and parents.
      The resulting Fear, Intimidation and Complacency caused by violence's Terrorism is as real in unintended accidents as it is when someone purposefully and viciously seeks to inflict pain and suffering on another.
      It is the result not the cause that one reacts to.
      And that's what happened yesterday.   The crippling sound of flesh and wood colliding stopped my heart.

Sarah at bat during a Little League game

       I saw my beautiful granddaughter run crying to her father, and then the huge lump popped out on her forehead.  It was located on her right temple just below her hairline about the size and shape of the core of a baseball.
       As the boy with the bat approached to look at Sarah with the others gathered about gawking at the scene, my instinct was to jerk the bat from his hands and break it.  Then, to scream at the boy, admonish him, humiliate him.  
        I checked my tongue.
        I was the Parent of Vigilance.  So was my son-in-law, the father of Sarah.   As Sentinels of Vigilance, it was our job to patrol the area, to make sure it was clear of potential Terror.   We goofed.
We became Complacent and our radar missed the young boy's potential threat with the bat.
       A few weeks earlier I questioned the lack of safety because kids coming early to practice often swung their bats while other kids walked around.   Unfortunately, I didn't yell:  "No Bat Swinging Rule In Effect."
       It happens that the older brothers of the younger kids come to the practice.  Bored watching their siblings fumble with the ball, they often hit and throw prior to practice--a natural thing.    But, it is also dangerous because they are older, stronger.
       I over manage batting practice, standing behind the batter not only to instruct, but to provide safety.  I keep the kids away from the "swinging zone," and the catcher well back.   At the young level we use safety balls, made of a rubbery substance so if one is hit with the ball the risk of injury is minimal.

      But the bat has the power of Terrorism.   It is a club, the most ancient of all weapons, turned into a sporting tool.   Cain--the first recorded Terrorist--may well have based his brother Abel's head in with a "bat-club."  
      We rushed Sarah to the doctor's office after getting a cup of ice from a slushie vendor and placing it on the huge lump.
       She was conscious.  There was no blood.
       Fortunately, she was okay.   Thankfully, the bat hit the upper part of her forehead.  It could have smashed into her eye or nose or mouth.  We all were grateful.
        In the aftermath, I realized I had slipped into Terrorism's Complacency Arms.
        Safety slipped in priority.
        I forgot the Beast of Terror doesn't always knock on the door.  Sometimes he hides in innocuous places, or worms his way up behind you when you're not looking.
       The boy swinging the bat wasn't a Beast of Terror.  He had no intent to smash someone in the head with his bat.   It was an accident, but one that might have been prevented had I used my Sentinel of Vigilance training more effectively, and demanded before practice the "No Bat Swinging Rule!"

I was reminded of the recent security report by Congress of the "shoulda's and coulda's"

        Even though the boy was not on the team, not part of our "coaching" responsibility, he served as a "danger."   He was a land mine sitting in ground after the war was over, waiting for a child to run over it in play.
        Swinging bats have no conscience.
        I thought of the recent report by Congress about the "shoulda's coulda's" accusations that America was remiss in its security systems.   The report rips at the viscera of the CIA and FBI, denouncing them for not alerting Americans that a potential threat to their security was underfoot, and for not following up on leads that might have thwarted the September 11th Terrorist attacks.
        Then I blinked.
        The unintended attack on my granddaughter was not unlike the intended attack on the World Trade Center, a sight my granddaughter witnessed in the arms of her grandmother as they watched the towers explode from the East Village location.
         It all comes down to results, not intent.
         Our leaders had no intent to subject the United States to an attack, even though one might think that by reading some of the accusations being politically slung at them.
         The boy swinging the bat at practice yesterday did not intend to injure a little girl.
         And, there is no question I could have done a more Vigilant job of managing the safety and security of the ball field.  
         There is never any question that we can always be more Vigilant.
         But there is good out of bad.
         I am installing a "No Bat Swinging" rule with the team and all the parents and all the kids who come to practice.    All bats will be placed in one pile, and anyone with one in their hands other than at the plate under supervision will be asked to leave the field.
         My goal now is to keep the potential for the next "bat attack" is check.
         I also believe our stand on Terrorism as a nation--in the aftermath of our Complacency--deserves recognition.   Since Nine Eleven, there has been no further Terrorist attacks on the country by foreign elements.

A "NO BAT SWINGING" rule will be in effect, even for Kim Jong Il of North Korea

         In a way, the U.S. has installed a "No Bat Swinging" rule.
         Further, the U.S. has gone to great lengths to police Terrorism abroad.  It cleaned out the Terrorist nests in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is now poised to lend a hand in Liberia.    The "No Bat Swinging" rule by America is being broadcast to all Terrorists who seek to use Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as bludgeons to force submission over others.
          That mandate:  "No Terror Bat Swinging" is being etched globally.  Kim Jong Il (pictured on right) hears it, and, the next Terrorist who thinks he or she can invade with impunity the world, hears it.
          I know I'm going to be a better coach and much more Vigilant as a result of my granddaughter's bout with the bat.
          So will the other people on the team--the players, the fans, the parents.
          Our Complacency has been shattered.
          Our Vigilance has been called to the front.
          The batting incident was unintentional, but its result was no different than the Nine Eleven attack on our beautiful city and nation.   We now have been forced to become Parents of Vigilance, Loved Ones of Vigilance, Brothers and Sisters of Vigilance.

Sarah is a Child of Vigilance

        My granddaughter carries on her forehead the Lump of the Beast.   But, that mark has not stopped her from playing ball.  Yesterday, she announced she wanted to play in today's game, and "no bat to the head" was going to stop her from making a hit.
         She's a Child of Vigilance.
         I hope to be as big a Man of Vigilance as she.
         Join the "No Terror Bat Swinging Club."
         Take the Pledge of Vigilance today!



July 25--Jessica Lynch:  Community Vigilance Rules Over National Vigilance

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