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What Is a Baseball Bat?

Sounds like a silly question in modern-day America, but baseball bats are as legendary as the game itself and, yet, most people are only aware of the final product. Truly dedicated baseball players, however, can be notoriously particular about the finer details of their bats. For baseball legends, weight and length or just the beginning. Ted Williams would soak his bats in alcohol. And Babe Ruth preferred to have pin knots located in the barrels of his bats!

Thus, the manufacture of baseball bats has come to be a delicate and time-consuming endeavor. Baseball bat manufacturing begins with the sourcing of the raw material- over the years, trends have shifted from hickory to ash and now 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, they are 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 conforms 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, staining them if necessary, and applying a coat of varnish before shipment.

The manufacture of a baseball bat is both an art and a science.

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