A baseball bat is a long smooth cylindrical club made of wood or metal. It may come as a surprise to many,but the design and thought that go into creating a baseball bat is very detailed and thorough.
The general specifications concerning baseball bats suitable for use in the American major leagues are; The bat must be a smooth rounded stick of not more than 2 3/4 inches diameter at the thickest end. It cannot be more than 42 inches in length. They normally weigh in at 33 ounces or 1kg. However this can differ from batter to batter. It must be made from a single piece of solid wood. In amateur baseball both wooden and metal alloy, usually aluminum, are allowed. High School baseball bats are smaller. They cannot have a diameter of more than 2 5/8 inches and are generally only 34 inches long. For the 12 year olds and under who play in Little League the bats are even smaller. They cannot have a diameter that is greater than 2 1/4 inches.
The weight and length determine an important technical aspect of all bats; the Drop. A bats drop is calculated by subtracting its length in inches from its weight in ounces. For example; a bat that weighs 33 ounces and is 40 inches long would have a drop of minus 7. The greater the bat drop the greater the swing speed. Bats that have a smaller drop tend to be able to produce more power. This calculation of drop is used to determine if certain bats are safe to use in the Amateur or Little Leagues. This concerns the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. If the ball hits the pitcher it can cause serious damage and may even be fatal.
There are of course numerous manufacturers of baseball bats in the United States. The most famous being, probably, Louisville Slugger; followed closely by companies such as Easton, maker of Easton Bats, Rawlins or DeMarini. There is even one company that makes Amish bats they are Akadema of Garfield New Jersey.
The Louisville Slugger company are the proud owners of the template used to create bats for Babe Ruth. For security reasons this is kept locked up tightly in their vaults.
The template is the original form created using key measurements that take into account the differences of each customer. They like the shoemakers last are made for a lifetime.
There has been a great deal of debate and controversy regarding the use of metal alloy bats, generally aluminum. When a player hits the ball he is looking for the crack the solid sound that promises a homerun. Wooden bats provide this. Alloy bats although they can, in theory hit the ball harder, only produce a distinctive popping sound. Aluminum bats were first introduced by the Worth company of Tennessee in 1970 since then; for the last 30 years or more they have gradually become more popular than the wooden bat. The popularity of alloy bats comes from the fact that they are lighter. This means they have a greater swing speed and therefore have greater ‘pop’ (power). But maybe more importantly, they last longer because they cannot break like the wooden bats.