The breakneck speed of baseball places huge demands on the equipment used for games and training sessions.
Baseballs can easily be thrown at speeds approaching 150 kilometres an hour. Although the hitter and pitcher officially stand 21 metres apart, there is often only around half this distance between them during training sessions or when warming up. If the hitter makes contact with the ball and it speeds back towards the pitcher, it can pack a huge punch. The purpose of L-screens is to prevent injuries when such short distances are involved. The pitcher stands behind the vertical part of these L-shaped frames for protection. When the L-screen being used by the Sehnde Devils gave up the ghost, the item branch in Hannover insisted on helping to make a new one. Unsurprisingly, this L-screen was produced using a unique special design.
Anything for the club
Baseball may have been usurped by American football as the number one sport in the United States, but Major League Baseball is still extremely popular. Japan, too, is so enthusiastic about baseball that it has become a national sport there. Baseball leads something of a niche existence in Germany, but that does nothing to dampen the fervour of the German baseball community. This is particularly the case with idealistic players who sacrifice their free time to their local team – and the Sehnde Devils are just such a club. In 1995, in only their second year, they were already playing in the district league and in the very next season they won promotion to the regional league. However, the fact remains that funds are limited in the amateur game.
Sometimes, a little bit of good fortune is required. Devils player Alexander Schellbach happened to be at the Weyersberg baseball ground in Solingen with his wife when the team we sponsor – the Solingen Alligators – were playing the Paderborn Untouchables in a Baseball-Bundesliga game and he got talking to the stadium announcer. “I knew how much item does for baseball, so I had a little chat with him about sponsorship,” recalls Schellbach. When the new branch in Hannover opened shortly afterwards, contact was quickly established.
Not your usual L-screen, but one with a meshed design
Armed with a few illustrations of typical L-screens, the Hannover engineers got to work. The design is based on our MB Building Kit System, with a special protective mesh to stop baseballs in their tracks. Final assembly took place at the club with three players from the team. Schellbach was surprised by the end result. “I’d assumed the new L-screen would be far heavier than the old one, which was made out of PVC tubing and was slightly smaller. But I was wrong because the new one is very light and easy to transport,” he says.
Nonetheless, the L-screen got through its first training session with flying colours. By the time the new season starts next year, if not before, it will have become an indispensable part of the safety equipment during pre-game warm-ups. Any changes that happen to be needed can be made in no time at all thanks to the flexible modular design. A horizontal profile could be added, for example, and individual sections could easily be adjusted. What may well be on the cards is the addition of castors to create a mobile L-screen. For the time being, though, everything is going fine. “We couldn’t have imagined a better L-screen,” says Schellbach with a great sense of satisfaction.
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