New York's City Council is considering a ban on metal bats, with former New York Mets reliever John Franco testifying Monday in support of the proposal.
Franco and the bill's supporters say metal bats hit balls faster and harder.
“I'm speaking from someone who was standing on the mound for 22 years, and I can see the difference,'' Franco told a council committee on Monday, according to the Associated Press. “And while I'm standing in the stands watching my son play, or some of the other Little Leaguers, I can see the difference.''
Franco said afterward he hopes a New York City high school ban would inspire others to follow. The council votes on the bill Wednesday.
Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina and other opponents have said previously there is no evidence to suggest metal bats are more dangerous.
Similar measures have been proposed by youth leagues and lawmakers in other states, including New Jersey, where a batted ball struck a 12-year-old boy in the chest, sending him into cardiac arrest. He was revived by spectators but was in a coma for months.
His father, Joseph Domalewski, told the committee on Monday his son sustained brain damage and still cannot walk.
“My son is doing a sentence, and to me the only thing he did wrong is to pitch to a guy holding a metal bat,'' he said.
Mussina and the ban's opponents believe the anti-metal movement relies on emotional anecdotes, but no scientific data. In 2005, an American Legion Baseball study found no substantial scientific evidence to support the argument that wooden bats are safer than metal, which has been in use since the early 1970s.
“I don't think it matters whether it's aluminum or wood or whatever the material is,'' Mussina said last fall. “I've been hit in the face. It's just part of it. I can understand they're emotional about it. But I don't see there's any more danger playing with aluminum or some other material.”
Mussina is a member of the board of Little League Baseball, which also opposes the council's ban, along with sporting goods makers such as Easton Sports.
David Ettinger, an attorney for Easton, called the proposal “utterly irrational'' on Monday. He indicated that the dispute might end up in court if it passes on Wednesday and is signed into law.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the mayor is skeptical about the merits of the measure but has not decided whether he would veto the bill.