Evolution Of Baseball Bats

Evolution Of Baseball Bats

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Today Baseball is considered America's national pastime. American's began playing baseball on informal teams in the early 1800's. At this time they had only local rules that differed from place to place. Also, at this time there were no official baseball bats for the players to use. Many used sticks as bats. That is where stick ball came from which is still played today. Baseball was based on the English game of rounders. Alexander Joy Cartwright of New York invented the modern baseball field in 1845. Also in 1845 Cartwright published the first set of baseball rules which were widely adopted(http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blbaseball.htm).
In the early days of the sport, baseball bats came in all shapes and sizes. In the 1850's, baseball was an extremely young sport and batters made their own bats and experimented with bats of all varieties (long, short, flat, and heavy).

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It was quickly discovered that bats with rounded barrels seemed to work best. The first rules to restrict bats were made in 1859. The bats could be no larger than 2.5 inches in diameter but they could be any length the players wanted. Ten years later in 1869, another rule was added stating the bats could be no longer than 42 inches in length. This bat length rule is still in effect today in baseball. At the time there were no rules or regulations on the shape of the bat player could use. In the 1890's the rule committee stated that bats could not be sawed off at the end, they must be round(http://www.baseball-bats.net/baseball-bats/baseball-bat-history/). The maximum diameter was also increased to 2.75 inches.
A New Era
All the new rules restricting bats soon became too much for the players. This brought about the birth of the most famous name in baseball bats today. In 1884, the Louisville slugger company was born. It all started one day in Louisville, 17 year old John Hillerich watched a player break his favorite bat in a game. Hillerich was a woodworker with his father; he approached the player and offered to make him a new bat. They both went to the woodworking shop, selected a piece of white ash and he made him a new bat. The next day the player went three for three at the plate with the new bat and word about the new bats spread. The Hillerich family was now in the baseball bat business. They began adding their recognizable Louisville Slugger trademark to each bat.
Ever since companies have been developing and manufacturing baseball bats they have undergone many changes. The sizes and shapes of the bats have stayed relatively the same, but the different technologies and materials used to make them have changed greatly over the years. The initial bats used in baseball were heavy bats made from hickory measuring less than 2 ¼ inches in diameter and weighing up to 42 ounces. Since that time major league players have gone to bats made from northern white ash which is much lighter. This allows players to use bats with bigger barrels with lighter weight. Until this time there were only wood bats, but this would change very soon.
Metal Baseball Bats?
In the times of developing technology and manufacturing there would soon be a new type of bat. In 1970, the first aluminum baseball bat was made for the sporting goods industry. However, this was not the first aluminum bat made. The first aluminum baseball bat was actually developed as early as 1924. William Shroyer was given the patent on June 24, 1924. In 1970 a company known as Worth introduced the first aluminum bat (http://www.worthsports.com/baseball/). In 1972 they released the first one piece designed aluminum bat along with the first official little league bat. The first college aluminum bat was not introduced until 1974 and it was called the Tennessee Thumper. These bats were made out of low grade aluminum alloy provided by Reynolds and Alcoa. The alloy was developed for the aerospace industry and was known for its high strength and light weight at the time. Since the time of the first bat until today the different alloy aluminum bats are made from keep improving. In the late 1970's a company located in Van Nuys, California, by the name of Jazz D. Easton introduced the next improvement in the aluminum bat. Easton was the first to use CU31 alloy for the bats which had higher strength characteristics then the original aluminum bats. In 1978, the company who introduced the first aluminum bat introduced the first graphite composition baseball bat. They also developed the first titanium bats but they were not introduced into the market place until both Worth and Easton introduced it in 1993. In 1995, Worth introduced the first bat using C405 alloy developed by Alcoa which has even higher strength then the previous CU31 alloy. In the same year Easton and Louisville also introduced their first C405 alloy baseball bats. It is not a new era for baseball bats, they keep getting stronger and better for the players to enjoy.
The Newest Alloys in The Game
The newest technologies in the past 5 years are the ones most familiar to us. Louisville has developed the Scandium XS Which has twice the amount of scandium in previous bats and has a strength rating of 96.3 ksi. They also have developed the GEN1X which is said to be the strongest and toughest alloy ever developed for aluminum bats. It has a strength rating of over 100 ksi. Easton has also developed new bats. The first is the ‘Connexion' and is the first two piece bat with the largest sweet spot in the game. It also has an elastomer piece which significantly reduces shock to the hands while creating focus flex power by storing and releasing more energy to the ball. Easton also has the Z-CORE titanium which has a light weight graphite inner core combined with the strength of woven titanium to form a barrel with an exceptional blend of strength and durability for outstanding performance. The Sc777 is Easton's most advanced aluminum alloy. This is the strongest alloy ever made for bats and the best selling in the industry. The use of scandium allows for thinner bat walls which means less weight and greater performance at all levels. Easton has also developed a blasting cap for the Sc777 which enlarges the barrel and increases the sweet spot on the bat for improved balance, sound, and feel. Worth has also come out with some new alloys for their bats. One new Worth bat is the MG46 alloy. This is a magnesium enhanced alloy. Magnesium enhances the hardness while making the bat lighter. Magnesium is 46% lighter than scandium. Worth also came out with the WS23 which is a scandium enhanced alloy. Scandium is an additive that adds strength to alloys. Worth's WS23 has two times as much scandium as the ‘Easton Triple 7'. Worth has also come out with the fiber flex, or 3DX technology(http://store.baseballcorner.com/). It is 50% carbon, 50% fiberglass shell that allows for greater flexibility in the shell. Louisville, Easton, and Worth are the top three baseball bat companies around and they will continue to develop and research new alloys to continue to make stronger, lighter, and longer lasting aluminum bats.
The Future
There is only one problem with all the new development in the baseball bat industry. This problem is the price of the bats, both wood and aluminum. An aluminum bat will cost you anywhere from one hundred and eighty dollars up to close to three hundred. A wood bat, that can break on any swing, will cost you anywhere from twenty dollars up to and exceeding one hundred dollars. Another problem with the newer aluminum bats is with the thinner aluminum walls on the bat they are more prone to cracking and denting which makes them unusable by rule in a game. If this happens most companies will send you a free replacement within a year of the purchase date, but after a year you are responsible for purchasing a new bat if damage occurs.
There have been several changes in the baseball bat industry and the technology discovered through all these changes there has been one thing that remains a constant. The love of baseball has not changed over the years. No matter where new technology takes the baseball bat industry, the sport will remain the same and will forever be known as America's national past time no matter what materials are being used and developed to play.

The History of Baseball. 09 Mar. 2005

"Baseball bat history." 2003. Baseball-bats.net. 09 Mar. 2005

"The History of Bats." Worth. 9 Mar. 2005

"Bat Buying Guide." Titan-solutions. 9 Mar. 2005
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