A candlelight vigil held by teammates of a Comox Valley Slo-Pitch league who is on life support after being struck in the head by a throw. (Black Press)

A candlelight vigil held by teammates of a Comox Valley Slo-Pitch league who is on life support after being struck in the head by a throw. (Black Press)

Make helmets mandatory after traumatic injury: Ruskin Slo-Pitch

Ruskin league president wants improved safety

The president of the Ruskin Slo-Pitch League wants wearing batting helmets made mandatory after a Vancouver Island man suffered a traumatic injury while running the bases.

On Saturday, 32-year-old Chris Godfrey was playing a Comox Valley Slo-Pitch game when a throw from shortstop struck him in the head, and he collapsed. He was flown to Victoria General Hospital, and placed on life support.

The league responded with a new rule making wearing helmets mandatory, and the Campbell River Slo-Pitch League has followed suit.

“If a helmet is going to save someone’s life or change the outcome of the tragedy this weekend, so be it. Then wear a helmet, have fun, because it was awfully devastating to people that were here this weekend …” said Adrienne Elliott, president of the Comox Valley Slo-Pitch League. “It’s just doing what’s best for the members of the league.”

The call for helmets will not stop there.

Darren Gosselin, president of the Ruskin league, said he witnessed a similar incident, where a rifle-armed shortstop’s throw hit a woman who was running to first, and knocked her down. The ball struck her more on the neck, and the woman was hurt but not seriously injured.

“It could have been worse,” said Gosselin. “It was scary.”

He is just one voice on the executive, but plans to bring the issue up at the next meeting, and consult with teams.

“In my opinion, it [wearing helmets] should be mandatory,” he said.

He said the only real argument against them would be cost, and the range for new helmets is $30 to $50, with the potential for a reduction with a league-wide bundle purchase.

“I think $50 is worth it, rather than losing a life.”

Slow-Pitch is a popular sport in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, with the Ruskin League boasting 30 teams in three different divisions.