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As a little league coach in town, I was horrified to hear about the tragedy that recently happened here on Long Island when a 7-year-old boy was killed playing baseball. He suffered a fatal heart attack after being hit in the chest by a batted ball. I can't imaging the pain of his family who were quoted as saying they wished they could turn back time. The newspapers also said that a similar tragedy happened on Long Island earlier this year to a young lacrosse player who was hit in the chest by a ball.

Two months ago a friend told me about new equipment, called the "Heart-gard", that is designed to protect against such a tragedy. Unlike bulky (and soft) catcher's chest protectors, the heart-gard is a small but solid piece of plastic that transfers force away from the heart and spreads it over a much larger area. The guard is worn under the baseball uniform. Elastic straps are connected to the neck, torso and pants to secure the guard over the child's heart during play.

My son plays hardball and he wears this protection whenever he plays. He experiences no discomfort while batting, fielding or pitching. I am glad that a number of members of our team started wearing this equipment during the season.

Parents of children who play sports that involve fast-moving hard objects (baseball, hockey and lacrosse) or martial arts should look into this protection for their children. The guard retails for about $15. I bought my son's at Arena Sports. More information about this equipment is also available at or by calling 1-800-844-1960.

I also ask the various sports leagues in our town to consider adopting rules requiring such protection for all children playing baseball, lacrosse and hockey. Schools of martial arts should look into requiring this type of protection for children, too.

If we all do our part, we can help protect the children of Port Washington from a similar tragedy.

Jim Podobinski Logo
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