The 10 Best Senior League Bats
A Brief History Of The Baseball Bat
What do Bruce Wayne and baseball have in common? They wouldn't be the same without bats.
Also, they have no patience for jokers, but we're mainly here to talk about the bats.
When baseball first reached prominence in the mid-19th century, players were expected to fashion their own bats to use. As a result, size, weight, and shape weren't standardized, and people used a variety of hand-whittled options.
These early bats tended to be much heavier than their modern counterparts, and generally they were larger as well. Clearly, the focus was on making contact no matter what, rather than trying to send a fastball out of the yard.
Since all of these bats were homemade, quality was spotty at best. This occasionally forced teams to improvise; for example, during a game in 1865, the Philadelphia Athletics broke all of their bats and were forced to use a shovel handle to finish the game.
A similar incident happened in 1884 when a woodworker in Louisville named J.A. "Bud" Hillerich went to watch his hometown team, the Eclipse. The team's slugger, Pete Browning, broke his bat during the game, and so Hillerich took it upon himself to fashion the star a new one, which Browning used to garner three hits in the next game — and the Louisville Slugger was born.
Not long after that, rules governing bat construction were standardized, requiring that the bats be round and made of hardwood, among other things. No weight was specified, though, and many would-be sluggers took to carrying bats that looked more like telephone poles.
Most early bats were made of hickory, but manufacturers quickly transitioned to the lighter-but-still-durable white ash. Baseball is nothing if not a copycat sport, however, and anytime a player has exceptional success doing something out of the ordinary, the rest of the league follows suit quickly — which is what happened when Barry Bonds used a maple bat to hit 73 dingers in 2001.
These new maple bats create a whipping action that sends the ball flying farther than other types of woods, but they're also more prone to shattering, which can be extremely dangerous to players and spectators alike. In an effort to increase safety, the MLB updated its bat regulations again, banning the softest varieties of maple and forbidding manufacturers from making bats with wide barrels and incredibly thin handles.
Today, bats are fairly uniform in shape, and any differences between models is slight and often unnoticeable to the naked eye. There's no telling what the next innovation will be, but it's safe to say that it will be sparked by a maverick who experiences unprecedented success.
That, or they'll replace it with one that has a video screen to broadcast even more advertisements.
Choosing The Right Bat For You
The movies will tell you that a real slugger will simply grab the closest bat, walk to the plate, call his shot, and plant the next pitch he sees in the upper deck.
In reality, though, you should spend a good amount of time finding the right bat for you. Using the wrong one is a great way to watch your batting average plummet — and a good way to find yourself watching the game from the bench.
Now, before we give you tips for finding a suitable option, it's important to realize that the best bat for you is the one you feel most comfortable swinging. Like buying a mitt, it's a deeply personal choice — like marriage, except more important.
The length of the bat is the first thing to take into consideration. Put the bat on the floor at your side and reach down — if your palm reaches the handle, you're in good shape. Likewise, put the knob on your chest with the bat facing outward, and if you can grab the barrel from there, it's a good fit.
Next, check the weight. It's important to note that most senior leagues have their own regulations about how much a bat can weigh, so consult the rules before you buy anything. From there, it mostly depends on what you want to do with the bat — long, light bats have lots of speed with little inertia, while shorter, heavier bats will be slower but with more momentum behind them. So, leadoff hitters should think light, while the cleanup man should go heavy.
Beyond that, you can decide between less-important features, like grip style and color. This is where you can express yourself, provided you're still comfortable with your stick.
Oh, and most importantly, make sure that it's easy to flip after you go yard.
Are Aluminum Bats Safe?
Aluminum bats are better than wooden bats — it's pretty much established at this point. That's why the big leagues forbid using them.
However, this comes with a price: the bats work so well, that they might actually be dangerous to other players, pitchers in particular.
Metal bats can generate up to 15 percent more speed than wooden bats, and when the ball comes flying off the barrel of those things, it doesn't leave fielders much time to prepare themselves.
If the ball happens to hit someone, the results can be disastrous. Now, to be fair, this can also happen with wooden bats, but it's far more likely when the hitter is using aluminum. As a result, there's been a push recently to ban metal bats altogether, and some teams have refused to play games where the opposition is using them.
While aluminum bats likely increase the risks associated with playing baseball, it's worth noting that baseball's still a relatively safe sport, so you shouldn't pull your kid out of the league immediately. That doesn't mean you shouldn't urge your league to reconsider its safety rules, but it's not worth losing your mind over.