The Aluminum Bat

No difference between the two. Absolutely none.

Of course, the major leagues only use wooden bats, but what about their counterparts — the aluminum bats? When were they made? Who made them? Well, gather around and let me tell you a story …

The first regulations about the wooden bat were made in 1859, but the first bat in the model we know today was created in 1884 by Louisville Slugger (yeah! We’re more than just the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, and tobacco, although most people like us more for those). The aluminum bat wouldn’t come around for a couple more decades.

In 1924, William Shroyer received the patent for the metal bat, but it wasn’t very good. Therefore, the aluminum bat wouldn’t really arrive until 1970 when Worth created the first aluminum bat for sale. Soon after, Worth created the first one-piece aluminum bat, and aluminum bats began to be used in Little League games in 1971 and in NCAA games in 1974. By 1975, aluminum bat sales had out-distanced its opponent. Easton came along later in the decade with a much better grade aluminum bat, and with the added quality, the aluminum bat took off.

The arrival of the aluminum bat was actually brought on by none other than the aeronautics industry. During World War II, airplane companies began experimenting with the light-weight aluminum alloys, and as a result, they made significant breakthroughs that made the modern bat possible.

The next improvements to the metal bat wouldn’t be added until 1993 when Worth and Easton added Titanium to the mix as the major component, and two years later, Easton and Louisville Slugger made the bats stronger and lighter.

Today, metal bats are made of a mixture of scandium and aluminum or are double-walled, but they are currently under tremendous scrutiny. On one hand, you have to buy less of them because they are more durable than wooden bats, and they don’t splinter the way a wooden bat might (which has recently caused problems in regard to maple bats). On the other hand, they increase the speed at which the ball reverberates off the bat, and sometimes, they rebound so fast that they injure defenders who can’t react fast enough, especially pitchers. As I said, they aren’t used in the MLB or its minor league affiliates, but they are still used in the NCAA, high school, and youth leagues.

How do I feel about them? Well, I tend to be fairly traditionalist (then again, I do like the Wild Card, Interleague Play, and the DH) in regard to baseball, so I don’t really like them. I’d rather kids use wooden bats (quick story — I played Little League with this kid who we could all swear was a 14-year old playing in our 10-12 league. He was huge and extremely good. Whenever he got up to the plate, the third baseman automatically backed up into the outfield. We were terrified that he would kill us. I also swear he tried to take out my knee caps after I dared to foul off a pitch of his), even though aluminum bats are lighter. When you get to high school, I think the kids are old enough and have good enough reflexes to use aluminum bats, but once they get to college, I think they should switch back to aluminum bats.

Is this logical to switch? Maybe not, but little kids aren’t likely to break bats as often and they won’t play on as many teams. High schoolers start showing more dedication, playing more games, and play for more teams, so I think aluminum bats become more appropriate. When they get to college age, however, I think they’ve gotten too big and muscular to use them. Also, it may help scouts judge talent better if they use wooden bats.

Feel free to disagree. I’d like to hear some ideas on the issue. It still rages on and may continue for a long time.

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2 Responses to “The Aluminum Bat”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    I’m against them at all levels. Until they start using aluminum bats in the majors (and they won’t), they shouldn’t be used anywhere.

    Kids need to learn to play the game correctly, and that’s why so many prospects flame out in the minors, especially guys with power. They have to learn to hit all over again with wooden bats.

    One game, one standard. There’s a lot they can do to wood bats to make them stronger (lacquer, varnish, etc).

  2. The Common Man Says:

    Your comment assumes, Ron, that the point of playing the game is to get to the majors, rather than, you know, playing the game. It seems to me that playing with aluminum bats is cheaper and more convenient for younger athletes, the vast majority of whom won’t even get a chance to flame out in the minors, let alone sniff the big time. I’ll gladly trade playing the game “right,” a totally subjective opinion, for simply playing the game and building a fan base among different demographics.

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