A GelDefender Interview with Blake Hawksworth


It was September of 2010, and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Blake Hawksworth—in only his second season in the majors—was on the mound against the Chicago Cubs. In the fifth inning, moments after a pitch to Cubs’ outfielder Sam Fuld, a stadium full of people cringed to see Hawksworth on the ground, blood dripping from his face.


“I can remember the incident, and I can remember seeing the baseball,” said the young righthander. “I can still even hear it, the sound it makes coming at you.”


Hawksworth was just a split second too slow getting his glove up to prevent Fuld’s line drive from hitting him squarely in the face.


He was taken immediately to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a split lip and a concussion. A few stitches, some dental work, and a month later, and he was back on the mound.


“If it was higher, lower, who knows how bad it could have been,” he said. “It could’ve been my eye, who knows. It’s just such a blessing to walk out of that okay.”


Now, with the upswing in concussion awareness, he is looking for ways to protect himself and his fellow pitchers for when what happened to him in 2010 happens again. “I’m fearful of it for anyone,” he said, “because I know the effects it has.”


Hawksworth said athletes often don’t consider themselves vulnerable to head injury until they are faced with one themselves. “In any sport, there’s a sense of invincibility,” he said. “You kind of have that thought of, ‘Yeah, that’s scary, but the odds of that happening to me are slim.’ Until it happens to you.”


He said hearing about people that have dealt with head injuries and their side effects for the rest of their lives, let alone their playing careers, has motivated him and major sports organizations to seriously consider greater protection.


“It’s an issue that’s going to be addressed, and Major League Baseball I know for a fact is looking into it, and especially in the NFL – hockey, cycling, you name it,” he said. “Head injuries are the scariest injuries out there.”
After taking a look at the GelDefender head protection pad for caps and working with it off the mound, he said he thinks its subtlety, its comfort, and its cooling make it a good options for pitchers.


However, he said that regulated protection for players may be in the distant future for a very traditional sport like baseball.


“Unfortunately, there’s some vanity in sports, and people are hesitant to wear something that is different,” he said. “But I think at the end of the day people have families, and they have lives to live after they play. And they want to do everything they can to live a healthy life.”


Listen to audio excerpts from our interview with Blake here: https://soundcloud.com/geldefender


*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefenderTM products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.