Wood and Baseball Bats

The wood that craftsmen use to make base ball bats has changed over the years. The preference of major league hitters tends to cycle through various hard woods as do the general shape and form of the bats. In baseball’s early developmental period and its golden era with players such as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth the bats were largely crafted from hickory. Hickory bats had the advantage of being extremely hard but were also extremely heavy. Over the past several decades, ash was the wood of choice for baseball bat manufactures and the science of ash bats even considered the region from which the ash was harvested depending on such factors as slow growth or fast growth trees. The speed at which a tree grows affects the density and other factors of the wood which in turn affects the hitting qualities of the bat. Recently ash bats have given way to maple as the wood of choice for many major leaguers and hitters such as Barry Bonds have used maple bats to set many hitting records. Maple wood is dense and fairly light making it ideal for hitting major league fast balls. However, alternative woods for baseball bats have recently been employed and one of the most promising new woods of choice is birch and particularly Yellow Birch, for use in making birch bats. Maple wood has become more difficult to source and thus more expensive to use in the manufacture of baseball bats. By contrast, birch wood is a hard wood which can be crafted to the demanding specifications of major league players who typically demand fewer grains implying a higher density wood. Thus, the cyclical nature of baseball and baseball bat science is now turning to the use of birch bats to supply the next generation of hardwood bats for today’s and tomorrows baseball players.

Robert Elias. “You’re Never too Young to Dream: The Craftsmanship of Baseball Bats.” Nine, 12/2(2004): 123.