What is a Baseball Bat?
Baseball bats are as legendary as the game itself. Yet, most people are only aware of the final product which is what hitters use to hit the baseball over the fence, ideally. Baseball players are notorious about their bats with such legends as Ted Williams soaking his bats in alcohol and Babe Ruth’s desire to have pin knots located in the barrel of his bats. Thus, the manufacture of baseball bats is a delicate and time consuming effort. Baseball bat manufacture begins with the sourcing of the raw material or the wood which has traditionally been first hickory, ash and then maple. Great care must go into the selection of the trees from which to harvest the wood because only an older tree with the proper density produces the finest bats. Once an appropriate tree is sourced it is cut down and split into approximately 40” pieces or splits. Once these splits arrive at the lumber processing plant, they are turned and shaved of their rough edges and these billets, as they are now termed, are bundled together for shipment to the baseball bat manufacturer. The billets that will become baseball bats are then seasoned which is a process in which the sap and gum are removed by allowing them to sit for as long as two years in order to dry. Once the billets have properly seasoned it is shaped into the typical form of most baseball bats on an automatic lathe machine, sanded down, and sorted by weight for final processing. Following this process the baseball bats are then handled by a bat turner who then conform the baseball bats to their final model type. The final part of the process involves stamping the bats’ trademark a quarter-turn from the sweet spot and dipping the baseball bats into stain, if necessary, and applying a coat of varnish before shipment. The manufacture of a baseball bat is both an art and a science.
Jules Tygiel. Past Time: Baseball as History. Oxford University Press, New York; 2001.
Making a Baseball Bat.” Sports Illustrated, 19/3(2007): 48-49.