Dangers of Maple Baseball Bats in Major League Baseball
The popularity of maple baseball bats among Major League Baseball players has increased significantly in the past ten years. The hardness of maple wood in comparison to ash has led to the bat’s increase in popularity, overcoming the slight weight increase of the newly- used material. Along with the rise in popularity of the maple bat is the number of instances in which bats have broken and flown in various directions, resembling hurled spears. This situation culminated on September 19th when Chicago Cub outfielder, Tyson Colvin was pierced by the spear shaped projectile as he was running toward home plate while attempting to score from third base. Fortunately, Colvin will make a full recovery and continue to compete with no ill effects. However, for Major League Baseball, this event could lead to a serious investigation of types of wood, and the effects of their collisions with baseballs traveling at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour.
While much of the baseball bat controversy has dealt with using aluminum bats at the amateur level as opposed to wooden bats at the professional level, there appears to be a new situation brewing with the type of wood that professional baseball players are choosing. Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) tests have led to the altering of components of the aluminum bat that is predominantly used at the amateur level. It is apparent that collision tests with wooden bats and baseballs are needed to evaluate how different types of wooden bats react and launch when severed by incoming pitches. Players on the field are not the only ones in the line of fire either, as projecting maple bats have flow into dugouts, stands, and coaching boxes.
Major League Baseball will need to closely monitor this safety threat now, as everyone in the vicinity of the plate is a possible target when a maple bat is being used. Furthermore, the use of maple bats will continue to trickle down to amateur baseball players competing in popular wooden bat leagues across the nation.
Click these links for more information:
- Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2010/09/21/should-baseball-ban-the-maple-bat/
- Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2010/09/20/maple-bats-need-addressed-pronto/
Mr. Foley is the Director of Student Services at the United States Sports Academy. He is a former Kansas State University baseball player. He has worked as a tutor in public schools as well as a college baseball coach, college basketball coach, and physical education instructor. Foley also worked in the front office for the Palm Springs Power summer collegiate baseball team.