A baseball bat is a smooth wooden or metal rod used in the game of baseball to hit the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. It is not more than 2 3/4 inches (70 mm) in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches (1067 mm) in length. The batter uses the bat two-handed to try to hit a pitched ball fair so that he may become a runner, advance bases, and ultimately score a run or help preceding runners to score. Lumber is a sometimes-used slang term for a bat, especially when wielded by a particularly good batter.
Although a stick to hit a ball with is a somewhat simple concept, the bat is a complex object. It is carved or constructed very carefully to allow for a quick balanced swing, while providing power. The bat is divided into several regions. The "barrel" is the thick part of the bat, where the bat is meant to hit the ball. The part of the barrel best for hitting the ball with, according to construction and swinging style, is often called the "sweet spot." The end of the barrel is not part of the sweet spot, and is simply called the tip or end of the bat. The barrel narrows down, and becomes the "handle." The handle is very thin, so that batters can comfortably set the bat in their fingers. Sometimes, especially on metal bats, the handle is wrapped with a rubber or cloth "grip." Finally, next to the handle is the "knob" of the bat, a wider piece that keeps the bat from sliding off of a batter's hands. There is an image of a baseball bat at this link.
Baseball rules about bats
In professional baseball, only wooden bats are permitted, and they are not allowed to be corked—that is, filled with a light substance such as cork which reduces the weight without costing greatly in hitting power. In amateur baseball, both wood and metal alloy bats are generally permitted, although many amateur "wooden bat leagues" do exist, and the trend back to wood seems to be accelerating on the grounds of safety concerns, since the lighter metal bats, in allowing greater distance to be achieved with less batter strength, also hit the ball at a greater velocity. Aesthetically, wooden bats are generally agreed to be superior to metal bats, both because of their more traditional appearance and because a batted ball hit with a wooden bat makes a loud, satisfying "crack" sound, while metal alloy bats make more of a "ping."
Most wooden bats are made from ash. Other woods used include maple, hickory, and bamboo. Hickory has fallen into disfavor because it is much heavier than other woods. Maple is increasing in popularity based on its hardness, lightness and durability, as reflected in the success Barry Bonds has had using maple bats. However, many professional baseball players and umpires dislike maple because maple bats will easily break.
Within the standards set by the various leagues, there is ample latitude for individual variation, and many batters settle on an individual bat profile, or occasionally adopt a profile used by another batter. Formerly, bats were hand-carved to a template obtained from a fixed number of calibration points; today, they are machine-turned to a precise metal template: these templates are kept in the bat manufacturers' vaults; for example, Babe Ruth's template, which became understandably popular among major-league players, is B43 in the Louisville Slugger archives. Once the basic bat has been turned, it is then branded by burning, with the manufacturer's name, the serial number, and often the signature of the player for whom it was made: the brand is applied to the hard side of bat, allowing the batter visual control of the hardness of the surface hitting the ball; the burn residue is then sanded off. (The first player to endorse and sign a bat was Honus Wagner.) The next step is the finishing of the head: bats are more often given a rounded head, but some 30% of players prefer a "cup-balanced" head, in which a cup-shaped recess is made in the head; this lightens the bat and moves its center of gravity toward the handle. Finally, the bat is stained in one of 7 standard colors, among which natural white, red stain, black, and a two-tone blue and white stain.
In high school baseball in the United States, the bat is not allowed to be more than 2 5/8 inches (67 mm) in diameter. It must have a drop of no more than minus three. A 34‑inch (863.6‑mm) bat would weigh at least 31 ounces (.88 kg). The bat in high school may consist of any safe, solid, uniform material; the NFHS rules state only "wood or non-wood" material.
At ballgames the team will sell miniature bats about 18 inches long as souvenir bats. These bats typically has the teams logo tattooed onto the bat. These bats are not made to be used in a game but rather as a souvenir from the game/ballpark from which it was sold.
Used as a weapon
The Baseball bat has been used as the generic melee weapon throughout the Grand Theft Auto video game series.
In the film The Warriors, a rival gang of baseball players use baseball bats as their weapon. In the video game adaption of The Warriors, the playable characters featured in the game may also pick up and use baseball bats in violent acts as weapons.
Mafioso's are often depicted with Baseball bats in Hollywood films.
In the anime, Paranoia Agent, the antagonist, Lil' Slugger, uses a bent metal baseball bat as a weapon.
- Physics and Acoustics of Baseball and Softball Bats by Dr. Daniel A. Russell. A look into the physics of baseball bats, including some videos and some quantitative details.
- Baseball-bats.net's page on baseball bat materials