Alden Manning pitched his heart out last season, hurling fastballs until his arm was so sore he needed Tommy John surgery. Problem is, Alden was only 14—and he's not alone. More teenage pitchers are suffering from serious arm injuries as the best of them are asked to pitch more innings, on multiple teams, year-round. And parents dreaming of multi-million-dollar contracts aren't holding them back, Ron Berler writes in the New York Times Magazine.
Alarmed by the trend, a surgeon and an engineer presented some ugly injury statistics to US amateur baseball leagues in 2002. Little League International took an interest and instituted pitch count maximums. But the restrictions were soon loosened, to the point where one pitcher threw 288 pitches over 10 days last summer. "We wouldn’t do that," says the Los Angeles Dodgers head trainer. "A manager or coach or trainer would lose his job if he did that."