Should youth baseball leagues switch back to wood bats?

The Rhode Island teams in the American Legion Baseball league, the oldest nationwide youth program, is switching it’s players back from aluminum bats to wood.

According to the Associated Press:

“But Rhode Island is once again playing with wood, one of at least three states nationwide where the American Legion has mandated a switch from metal bats to the type used in Major League Baseball, in part to return the game to its purer origins.”

“…’There’s a lot of nostalgia using all wood,” said Jim Quinlan, national program coordinator for the American Legion league, which was founded in 1925 and counts the likes of Yogi Berra, Tom Brokaw and Dick Cheney as alumni. “Baseball people are hard-core traditionalists. The old-time coaches love that old wooden bat. They say it teaches the kids to be a better hitter.’

“…The debate over wood versus metal is long running. Metal bats are lighter weight and cost more – some run several hundred dollars, while wood ones are usually $100 or less – but they last considerably longer. They also tend to be more powerful than wood, as hitting goes. Balls pop off a metal bat, and fast.”

“But that has raised a safety issue, particularly after several serious injuries to high school and college players in recent years. The new type of metal bat being used in the NCAA is designed to dull the exit speed of the ball, giving players more time to react to hits that could potentially be dangerous, particularly for pitchers.”

“Still, proponents of metal bats say there is no conclusive research showing that wood bats, traditionally made of ash and, more recently, maple, are safer. They can splinter, sending shards of wood catapulting through the air, putting players and even fans at risk. Major League Baseball, after experiencing a high number of broken-bat incidents in 2008, began studying them – with the help of the U.S. Forest Service – to identify which kind of bats break most often and why. The league set new maple-bat standards and says they helped cut the shard rate.”

What is your youth league using? Do you have a preference for the kids between metal and wood? Do you think it matters to their training or to the play of the game? Should all youth leagues switch back to wood?

17 comments Add your comment

JJ

July 29th, 2011
1:30 pm

I love the sound of a metal bat hitting the ball……

DB

July 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

Well, since no one in our family follows baseball or played baseball as a child . . . I have to admit, I have never paid attention to the debate re: wood vs. aluminum. What do the pros use — wood? If they use wood, shouldn’t the youngsters use wood, too?

Jeff

July 29th, 2011
1:48 pm

I played baseball for years growing up. We all used metal bats. I had a friend who was a pitcher. He was hit in the head and suffered permanent, life altering injuries to the point that he will require an in home nurse the rest of his life.

While there is no conclusive evidence he could have avoided the injury with a wooden bat, you have to remember that up to a certain age, the pitcher’s mound is much closer than normal. That, obviously, decreases the amount of reaction time you have.

Changing to wooden bats is a great idea. At least until the age where the mound goes to the standard distance from home plate.

Little League...

July 29th, 2011
2:04 pm

…switching to wood? What about the girls that play Little League baseball?

Which reminds me...

July 29th, 2011
2:08 pm

…of the old joke about the guy with one eye who went to a dance but was too self conscious to ask any girl to dance. Finally he got the nerve to ask the shy girl in the corner who had a hair lip if she would like to dance. “Would I, would I” she replied; to which our shy boy responded, pointing at her, “Hair lip, Hair lip”…

abc

July 29th, 2011
2:38 pm

They should use wood. Metal bats such as DiMarini is even borderline in violation of standards, with the spring inside that adds 20 feet or so, and more velocity, even though such designs are mostly approved for little league use. It’s similar to other sports technologies such as tennis rackets and golf clubs: take a look at 20-50 year old gear, and imagine trying to play with that stuff — but then, swinging a wooden bat vs. a metal one isn’t that different, is it? It’s supposed to be the crack of the bat, not the tink of the bat.

shaggy

July 29th, 2011
2:43 pm

No brainer. Wood Bats.
There is NO better hitting “feel” than a baseball being hit by a wood bat. Absolutely NONE!
The aluminum bats came along with cost of ownership, over time, as the reason. They don’t even sound right. ding or ping, instead of CRAAAAACK!

Give me a 34 ash bat any day…still can park that sucker.
I still have one that I used back in the day. I won’t let the kid hit with that one. He has his own. If I break it, it was meant to be broken. I ALWAYS look down on that Louisville Slugger label before a swing…and lay off of them, on the hands. It ain’t worth the bat anymore.

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djm_NC

July 29th, 2011
8:11 pm

wood bats. i hated when they changed.

keep the dude..

July 30th, 2011
7:01 am

she’s so insecure about how well the guy did while she was gone, she threw up 5 quick blogs to knock his blogs off the list….

AJC, keep the dude!

uh, dude...

July 30th, 2011
8:47 am

….if you will look to the right of this column, under “Recent Posts”, you will see that some of the “dudes” other topics are still there, too…

misawa

July 30th, 2011
9:26 am

When I was in little league we had a choice. The park I played at always had plenty of aluminum and wood bats. And because the Braves used wood bats, so did I.

The only place an aluminum bat belongs is in softball.

Hmmmmmmmm

July 30th, 2011
7:23 pm

Wood bats should be the standard! Period!

Devil's Advocate

July 30th, 2011
7:30 pm

I thought the reason metal bats have been used from youth to college is because they are actually cheaper over time. Wood bats might be cheaper at the time of purchase but are more likely to break over time from normal usage. Was the bat industry setup to provide warranties for full replacement of wooden bats in approved conditions the way a metal/composite bat can be replaced? I’ve seen wood bats marketed towards youth a lot lately so maybe they now have the same warranty terms.

unclefast

July 30th, 2011
8:28 pm

I cannot tolerate going to a high school or college game, simply because of the “ping” sound of a metal bat. Metal bats suck!

vagabondking

July 30th, 2011
8:28 pm

They can dampen metal bats, so the baseball doesn’t rebound off the bat like they did in college. It will keep parents from buying multiple wooden bats each season & the kids will be just bat as safe. The bats are not the problem, it’s the parents & the kids buying hi performance bats. There can increase the weight to length ratio as well to slow down bat speed.

Brian

July 30th, 2011
8:54 pm

The only reason I’d say switch to a wood bat is because it shows the players true hitting ability. You get these kids that move on to college and can crush the ball and then they make it to the minor leagues and fizzle out. The prime example of that is Tim Hudson. He was on top of the Allbarn record books for a long time because of the aluminum bats. Luckily, he is a great pitcher. The safety issue to me is a non-issue. You can get hurt no matter what and it’s just another example of people babying the children. I played growing up with metal bats and never saw anybody get seriously injured. I saw more kids get hurt by baseballs. I actually saw a kid get brain damage by being hit with a baseball. You can get injured doing any sport. However, I knew kids growing up that signed minor league contracts that never made it anywhere once they used wooden bats. If they grew up with wooden bats it would have benefited them tremendously.