College and professional minor league baseball players sustained 80 percent
fewer sliding injuries on "break-away" bases than on traditional stationary
base, in a study presented at the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
(AOFAS) Winter Meeting.
The study looked at 19 teams that played NCAA and professional minor league
baseball games using both break-away and traditional bases for two consecutive
seasons. The teams played 498 games on stationary bases (away games) and 486
games on break-away bases (home games). Players sustained ten sliding related
injuries during games when traditional bases were used and only two during games
when break-away bases were used. Furthermore, the amount of time missed as a
result of break-away base injuries was significantly less than time loss due to
stationary base injuries. Season ending injuries only occurred on stationary
"This compares favorably with our earlier studies of sliding injuries among
recreational softball players which suggested a 98 percent reduction in injuries
and a 99 percent reduction in health care costs," said David H. Janda, M.D.,
Director of the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine, Ann Arbor, Mich. and
principal author. "The study shows that break-away bases are cost effective and
safer than standard stationary bases and decrease the number and severity of
injuries both at the recreational and high performance level."
Dr. Janda pointed out that college and professional baseball players receive
sliding instruction and develop better techniques than recreational players,
and, therefore, do not sustain as many injuries. Nevertheless, significant
numbers of sliding injuries occur among high performance athletes even at the
major league level. (Last year Dione Sanders of the Atlanta Brave, Chris Sabo of
the Cincinnati Reds, Dave Gallagher of the New York Mets and several other major
league players missed games due to injuries sustained sliding into bases.)
According to Dr. Janda, the study suggests that breakaway bases should be used
at the major league level as well as during minor league, college and
recreational league games.
"Professional baseball could prevent serious injuries to players and
significantly reduce costs by using break-away bases," said Dr. Janda.
"Furthermore, adoption of break-away bases by the major leagues would set an
example for recreational softball and baseball. If all recreational leagues used
break-away bases, we could virtually eliminate the almost 2 million injuries and
$2 billion in health care costs that occur among recreational players every
Team physicians, athletic trainers, mangers and administrative staff recorded
and documented base sliding injures during the current study. They counted only
injuries that led to a player's removal from competition. During the two seasons
studied, the observers recorded a total of 2,028 slides on break-away bases. The
bases broke away approximately 554 times or about three percent of the time. The
only two break-away injuries included a shoulder contusion sustained when the
player slid head first into the base and it did not release, and an ankle
fracture sustained before the player reached the base. (He did not make contact
with the base.) Of the ten sliding injuries sustained on stationary bases, three
were knee injuries and seven were ankle sprains. The average time missed from
participation due to ankle sprains was 12 days. Of the three knee injuries, one
was a medial collateral ligament sprain and resulted in the player missing one
month from the season. The two remaining knee injuries consisted of meniscus
tears, both required surgery and both resulted in season ending injuries.
Following the study, the researchers surveyed team players, managers and
administrative staff of all schools and baseball organizations involved in the
All teams expressed satisfaction with the bases and all planned to continue
using them. Umpires and managing staff alike stated that the use of break-away
bases did not alter the game in an adverse manner. The umpires reported no
difficulty with judgment calls (safe versus out calls) when the bases released.
The rubber mat left when bases broke away allowed continuation of play.
The break-away base used in previous studies and this study has receiving
holes that fit into grommets on a rubber mat. The rubber mat lies flush with the
infield surface and is anchored to the ground with a metal post similar to that
used with a standard stationary base. Break-away bases dislodge with only one
fifth the force needed to move a stationary base from its mooring.
The teams involved in the study included minor league teams from
Fayetteville, North Carolina; Watertown, New York; St. Catherines, Ontario,
Canada; Geneva, New York; London, Ontario, Canada; Niagara Falls, New York and
Dunedin, Florida as well as teams from LeMoyne College, Bucknell University,
Shippensburg State University, Swathmore College, Elizabethtown College,
Gettysburg College, and Eastern Michigan University.
Other authors of the study, "Sliding Injuries in College and Professional
Baseball - A Prospective Study Comparing Standard and Break-Away Bases,"
included Richard Maquire, Bucknell University, Lewisbug, Pa.; Derek Mackesy,
M.D., Ann Arbor, Mich., Richard Hawkins, M.D., Vail Colo.; Pete Fowler, M.D.,
Professor of Othopaedic Surgery, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario,
Canada; and Joel Boyd, M.D., Minneapolis, Minn.