Are you curious about the history of baseball bats? Keep reading to find out more! During the mid-19th century, baseball players often made their own bats, which resulted in various sizes, shapes, and weights. In time, after experimenting with these different shaped bats, players realized rounded barrels produced the best results. In 1859, a rule was established limiting the diameter of the bat to 2 ½ inches, and a decade later, the length was limited to 42 inches.
The most famous name in baseball bats, The Louisville Slugger, came about in 1884. This happened when woodworker John Hillerich watched Louisville player Pete Browning break his bat and offered to make him a new one. After having success with his new bat, word spread about the bat, more were produced and eventually the trademark logo was added.
The “ball-bat” or “banana bat” was introduced in June 1890 by Emile Kinst. Shaped with a curve, the idea of the design as noted by Kinst was to “produce a rotary on spinning motion of the ball in its flight to a higher degree than possible…. making it more difficult to catch the ball”.
During the same decade, the rules were changed so that bats couldn’t be sawed flat at the end with a maximum diameter increased a quarter of an inch. Just after the turn of the 20th century, Honus Wagner became the first player to have his autograph burned into the Louisville Slugger bats.
In 1906 the “mushroom bat” was introduced by Spalding as one of the new larger bats designed in the first decade of the 20th century. The knob on the bats were mushroom-shaped, which enabled batters to get a better weight distribution throughout the bat.
A Tale of Two Knobs
Another innovation during the same time period was the Wright & Ditsons Lajoie bat. The unique feature on this bat was the presence of two knobs. The one was at the very bottom of the bat and the other about two inches higher. The idea behind the design was to give batter better spacing between the hands, better grip feel and more control of the bat.
The First Metal Bat
During the middle of the 1920s, a patent was issued to William Shroyer for the first metal baseball bat. However, it was four and a half decades later before they were seen used in games. Soon after the first aluminum bat was used by Worth, they produced the very first one-piece aluminum bat and little league bat. Easton started producing aluminum bats in the late 1970s and became the leading name in the aluminum bat industry.
In 1990, the idea of an axe handle on a bat was introduced by Bruce Leinert. The “axe bat” started being used in shortly after Leinert filed his patent in 2007. In fact, MLB players such as Mookie Betts and George Springer has used this bat handle. Titanium bats came onto the scene in 1993 and in 1995 Easton and Louisville Slugger brought to the market even stronger and lighter bats. Improvements to bats have continued over the years and include double walled bats. Note that these bats are not allowed on the professional level.
While bats are continuously undergoing developmental changes over the years, wooded bats today are lighter in weight with thinner handles, but the rest is very similar. Maple bats are very popular, with numerous companies selling such bats.
Over the past century and a half, there have been some subtle, some major differences in bats. The bat is such a simple, yet necessary tool in baseball. Despite its simplicity, expect changes to continue to be made in the future. Want to get the best bat in baseball right now? Shop Rude American USA MOAB – Mother of All Bats!