General managers decided Thursday that first- and third-base coaches will wear some sort of head protection during games next season, an action taken four months after Mike Coolbaugh was killed when he was struck in the neck by a line drive.
Coolbaugh, a former major leaguer and a coach for the Colorado Rockies' minor league team in Tulsa, died July 22 when he was hit as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a Texas League game at Arkansas. Some major league coaches started wearing helmets the rest of the season.
"There was a sentiment that as a concept this was a good idea," said Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office.
GMs will decide on the exact form of protection when they meet next month at the winter meetings.
"We're going to come back in Nashville with some options: liners, hard caps, helmets without flaps, helmets with flaps," Garagiola said.
While no formal vote was taken, Garagiola said the sentiment of the GMs was clear.
"Everybody just felt it was a situation that made sense," Detroit Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said.
Many batters started wearing helmets after Ray Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was killed when he was hit by a pitch during a game in 1920. A rule requiring helmets for batters was adopted in 1971.
"If you think about the evolution of the batting helmet, unfortunately what ended up happening this year is essentially what happened with Ray Chapman," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said. "I think we need to come up with a recommendation."
Garagiola said the recommendation adopted by the GMs next month will not need additional approvals.
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