In baseball's earliest days, bats were commonly made of hickory, a strong wood. Because hickory is too heavy for many players' preferences, white ash and maple are the most popular woods for bats at the Major League level. Recently, bamboo has entered the market and is starting to compete with the more traditional wood bats in high school and college teams.
The production method for bamboo bats is a more complex process than that of traditional bats. While most bats are spun directly from lumber, bamboo bats cannot be made in the same fashion because bamboo chutes are hollow. To make a bamboo bat, strips of bamboo are pressed together and the subsequent billets are spun into bats.
Bamboo baseball bats provide more strength and durability than traditional wooden bats because of bamboo's extremely high tensile strength. Bamboo bats are a financially responsible choice, as they are less likely to break than white ash or maple bats.
Because bamboo bats are so durable, they can certainly contribute to the odd additional hit by staying in one piece after a powerful swing, whereas other bats may shatter. Reviews consistently rate bamboo bats high, with the bonus of a large sweet spot. A common complaint is that the slick wood can be harder to hold on to than other wood bats. This can be fixed by using batting gloves or grip tape on the bat.
Whether bamboo bats are allowed or not depends mainly on the league you are playing in. Because most amateur leagues use aluminum bats, bamboo bats are not yet widely accepted in the baseball community. They have been approved for use in many high school and college leagues, however, so their use continues to grow.
Major League Baseball
The illegality of bamboo bats at the Major League level is based on rule 1.10 (A), which states that a bat must be made of one solid piece of wood. This rule even prohibits bamboo bats from being used in exhibition play, so bamboo bats will not be seen in Major League Baseball until the rules are changed.
Bamboo bats are often hailed as an environmentally sound choice. While most trees, including white ash and maple, take decades to mature to the point where they can be used to construct a bat, bamboo chutes grow back rapidly. This reduces the negative impact on the environment.
- Photo Credit Eight year-old boy holding a baseball bat. image by Lisa Eastman from Fotolia.com
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