(top) What the bat does to a baseball!!! See The University of Massachusetts baseball bat research video HERE; (row 2) The greats: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth; (row three) A great 1950’s Indians team from left: Dick Howser (SS), Chuck Hinton (1B), Leon Wagner (LF), Rocky Colavito (RF), Max Alvis (3B), Vic Davalillo (CF), Larry Brown (2B), Joe Azcue. (row four) Jim Thome knew what to do with a bat. (row five) Sometimes bats break; (row six) Batting is for everyone; (row seven) What a baseball bat sees milliseconds before smacking its little face! Hahaha…
It’s back. Yea, in a new form, with crazy restrictions and all. But, for the first time in quite some time we’re “talkin’ Tribe”. Baseball, in its refined way, makes summer feel – well like summer for me! Box scores, news highlights, standings, hot players and teams and the amazing voice of Tom Hamilton!. It just feels right. And of course, what’s one of the toughest things in sports… triple flip? Iron cross? The 10K? For me, it’s consistently hitting a baseball. Think about it – the greatest players of all time only got it right every three times at bat. That’s nutty. So, to celebrate one of the great PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs! – figuring out how to consistently bat .400 – I did a bit of digging and found some great trivia on the history of the baseball bat. It’s way more complex than I thought but wanted to do a credible job recapping it for my fellow baseball lovers. And special thanks to Bernie Mussill and Steve Orinick from stevetheump.com for the history. Enjoy, and for fun, here’s some baseball music to read by: CLICK HERE
- In Europe, Nicholas Grudich played Lupka with other boys by using a five inch round pointed stick that was set at an angle on the ground and hit with a flat bat. From these types of activities came groups of boys playing Rounders, Flyball, Townball and Caddy.
- Townball was a game involving twenty to thirty boys in a field attempting to catch a ball hit by a tosser. The tosser used a four inch flit bat with a tapered handle so his hands could grip it firmly for control and leverage. Even though history is sketchy at this time, it’s is safe to say that from this idea came the modern day baseball bats.
- Bill Deane, Senior Research Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has on record a well-documented account of a baseball game played on June 19,1846 at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey. This game was the first played under the Alexander Cartwright rules, which included a 9 inning game, 9 players on each team and 3 outs per side. Baseball players made their own bats and as a result, many different sizes and shapes were used.
- During this particular time in history, players experimented with different kinds of wood for their bats in order to improve their hitting ability. They soon realized that wagon tongue wood was the best for making baseball bats. While the transition to wagon tongue wood was taking place, players also realized they could hit a ball much more solidly with a round bat.
- While some players continued to make their own bats, others had their bats made by a wood maker. Within the next four to five years, the round bat became very popular. All ball players were using a round wagon tongue bat and the only flat surface bat on any team was used strictly for bunting. The round bat had definitely taken over.
- In 1859, The Professional National Association of Baseball Players Governing Committee voted in favor of the first limitation on bat size. The limitation specified that bats may be no larger than 2 1/2 inches in diameter and that they may be of any length.
- Approaching the Civil War years, 1861 to 1865, some players had a difficult time gripping the large bat handle. In order to avoid this problem, they wrapped cord or string around the handle. The result was better control and led to wrapped handles.
- Before the year 1869, there were no existing limitations on the length of the baseball bat. Then in 1869, the rule governing bat length was adopted and stated “Length limit on bats, maximum 42 inches long.” Surprisingly, this particular rule has not changed. It is in today’s rule book under Division 1.00, Rule 1.10A, “The bat shall be…not more than 42 inches in length”.
- In 1879, after considerable experimenting with various styles, it was said that “long and slender is the common style of bats”. In addition, the handle had a carved knob for better control.
- During the 1884 baseball season, John Hillerich, a woodworker for his father and a good amateur ballplayer, was in the stands watching ‘The Louisville Eclipse’ of The Professional American Association play. During this game, Pete “The Gladiator” Browning, star outfielder, broke his favorite bat and became very frustrated. After the game, young Hillerich invited Pete to his Dads’ woodworking shop. He claimed that he could create a new bat for Pete. After Browning and Hillerich selected a piece of white ash, Hillerich began to “shape the new bat” according to Browning’s directions. With Browning looking over his shoulder and periodically taking practice swings, Hillerich worked through the night. Finally, Browning announced that the bat was just right. The next day, Browning used the Hillerich bat and hit three for three, and the Louisville Slugger was born.
- The Hillerich Louisville Slugger trademark on each bat led to the branding of player signatures on the barrel of the bats. Until then, players carved their initials or in some other way marked the knob or barrel of their bats. Baseball players using Louisville slugger bats before the turn of the century included Willie Keeler, Hugh Duffy, Pete Browning, John McGraw, Hugh Jennings, Honus Wagner and the Delaney brothers, just to name a few.
- Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat”, brought fans back to the game of baseball by the thousands. The Babe launched an amazing home run career, including belting 60 home runs in 1927. Ruth would carve one notch for each homer hit. One of Ruth’s bats with 21 notches around the trademark is on display at the Hillerich and Bradsby plant.
- Willie Keeler’s motto was “Hit them where they ain’t”. He used the shortest bat ever made by Hillerich and Bradsby. It was 30 1/2 inches long. Willie was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, weighing only 140 pounds. He played for the Orioles and four other teams and became one of baseballs’ greatest place hitters as well as an outstanding bunter. The large barrel of his short bat gave him great bat control. In 1898, Willie hit a record 200 singles out of a total of 214 hits. This record still remains today
- Lou Gehrig, a monumental ball player was a product of Columbia University and left his mark on baseball as well as his name on a dreadful disease. During his fifteen year career, Gehrig used a Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville Slugger bat, Model GE 69 with a 2 1/2 to 2 5/8 inch barrel, 34 inches in length and weighing 38 ounces. Gehrig’s stats simply boggle the mind. He averaged 141 RBI’s and 134 runs scored for fourteen years. He hit 493 home runs with a career batting average of .340. Lou Gehrig, often called “Iron Horse” for his 2,130 consecutive games, was also known as a “run producing machine”. Gehrig and Ruth formed the greatest one-two punch in the history of baseball.
- In June of 1969, Evan Baker joined Adirondack as president. One of his innovations was the bat-mobile. The bat-mobile was an Airstream trailer equipped to hand turn bats at various Major League spring training camps. By providing this service, Adirondack converted many big leaguers to using the Adirondack “Big Stick”. For example, in June of 1971, Joe Torre and Tony Oliva used the “Big Stick” and led their respective league in hitting.
- In June of 1975, Rawlings Sporting Goods merged with Adirondack. The improvements included updating facilities and increasing the sales of baseball bats. This year, it is projected that 1 1/2 million wood bats would be produced. In order to meet this quota, production will have to be set to nearly 8,000 bats per day.
- When Reggie Jackson, of the New York Yankees, hit three consecutive home runs in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he used an Adirondack “Big Stick” bat.
- Today most players have the ends of their bats ‘cupped out’. This removes extra end weight and moves the center of balance toward the trademark, giving the batter better whip-like control.
- Easton entered the team sports market with aluminum bats in 1970. Their metal working technology has produced one of the best balanced and best performing bats in the world. Easton excels in the aluminum bat market at every level. Their bats were the choice of the Gold Medal winning United States Olympic baseball
- With the proper technology and engineering, the aluminum tube of these bats is drawn to redistribute the walls with the desired weight. After tempering, (YES – WE LOVE THIS PART!) the bat is tapered to the proper dimensions. Cleaning treatments and heat treatments are performed on each bat. They are straightened and in some instances the ends are spun closed or machined to accept an end plug. The bats are polished, anodized and silk-screened. Before these bats are labeled and packed for shipment the
- To further complicate the newer versions of bats, there is one more type of bat: the composite. Composite baseball bats are made of glass, carbon and Kevlar fibers placed together in a plastic mold. These are anisotropic, which means that these bats are designed to bring out a strength and stiffness of a different kind. The effect is that composite baseball bats are lighter than an aluminum bats. Baseball composite bats incorporated a recent technological advancement of their aluminum counterpart to be used by college and high school players.
- The NFHS is currently reviewing composite bats on an on-going basis. They do not maintain their rated characteristics for the life of the bat and that their performance increases the more they are used. As the bats are consistently used, they develop interior cracks resulting in increased performance. Additional Accelerated Break In (ABI) testing is being performed on bats submitted by the manufacturers. With a few exceptions, they were banned in 2011 for high school baseball.
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As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good. :-))))