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FRANK BRADSBY


More Baseball,

More Trees

At this point in history, it was evident that Baseball was here to stay. The challenge of every play and the excitement of the fans increased attendance every year. Bat manufacturers realized the importance of continued research in order to supply the best quality wood for their products. Hillerich and Bradsby began manufacturing baseball bats as a small concern at the turn of the century. By comparison, in today's bat industry, it takes thousands of trees each year to supply the bat demand.

Louisville found out early in the bat business that Northern White Ash was the most acceptable for manufacturing their product. The best White Ash comes from the Northeastern states where the terrain, soil and climate are most favorable for its growth. Hillerich and Bradsby own thousands of acres of timberland in New York and in Pennsylvania. Ash provides just the proper amount of tensile strength and resiliency. This, along with the favorable weight of Ash, translates into power and drive in the finished bat.

When the billets are unloaded at the company timber yard, they are stacked for forced air-drying. This is done in modified dry kilns for six to eight weeks. Next, the billets are doweled to uniform size, inspected for defects and weighed. Finally, they are manufactured into different size Baseball and Softball bats.

It is important to note that wood bat usage has fallen off because of great reliance on aluminum. Most wood bats; today are used by professional leagues. Hillerich and Bradsby’s comparison of the bats of today to those of yesterday finds that today's bats are lighter, they have larger barrels and thinner handles.

The Most Popular Model

Hillerich and Bradsby have over three hundred pro models on record today. They also have twenty thousand specification cards in the pro model file; For example, both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron used similar model bats. However, Ruth's bat weighed forty-two ounces and Aaron's weighed thirty-three ounces. The model bat most poplar today is that of Eddie Malone of the Chicago White Sox, for whom the bat Model M I 10 is named. Bats also have nicknames

such as Timber, Lumber, Willow, Black Death, Black Betsy and Stick. Give Hillerich and Bradsby credit for manufacturing millions of Baseball bats for more than one hundred eight years. Their bats were, and still are, made in America.

Having confidence in a baseball bat is very important to every Major League player. The players make their bat selections very carefully in order to insure that they obtain the best bat made for them. Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox slugger, considered his bat a very good friend. As a result, his accomplishments included a .406 season in 1941, two Triple Crowns, two Most Valuable Player awards, six time American League Batting Champion, five hundred twenty-one home runs and eighteen All Star games. His .551 on base percentage still stands to this day. Williams' career batting average was .344. Yes, Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters that ever lived.

If Stan Musial, of the St. Louis Cardinals, did not have a number on his uniform he would still be easily recognized due to his famed corkscrew stance and ringing line drives. During the time that Musial pitched Class C Baseball, he developed arm problems. It was then that he became a slugging outfielder. He topped .300 eighteen times, won seven National League titles, was a three time Most Valuable Player, and played in twenty-four All Star games. Stan Musial was nicknamed "The Man" and it was often said that he hit "from around the comer".

Joe DiMaggio is remembered as one of the games' most graceful athletes. Many rate his fifty-six consecutive game hitting streak in 1941 as the top feat of all time. DiMaggio, called the "Yankee Clipper ", with his wide stance, was two time Batting Champion, three time 'Most Valuable Player, averaged one hundred - eighteen RBI's and had a .325 lifetime mark. Because of an ankle injury, DiMaggio played in only one hundred thirty-nine games. Nevertheless, he still had one hundred twenty five RBI’s, seventy-six base on balls, and struck out, only thirteen times. Make no mistake, 1941was the year of the streak and of .406.

Many times, it has been written, that Willie Mays, of the New York Giants, excelled in all phases of Baseball. His staggering statistics include three thousand two hundred eighty-three hits, six hundred sixty home runs, .302 average, two-time M.V.P, eleven Gold Gloves, twenty-four All Star games, four World Series and the National League Rookie of the Year in 1951. Willie used an Adirondack McLaughlin-Millard bat to help him complete these statistics.

Another exciting moment in Baseball happened on October 1, 1951. New York Giant outfielder Bobby Thomson, using an Adirondack 302 Model bat, hit a ninth inning, three-run homer to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers and win the Pennant. To the Giants and the rest of Baseball, Thomson's blast was "the shot heard "round the world".

The-fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates will always recall Bill Mazeroski as the hero of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees. The seventh game was tied 9-9 at the end of eight and one-half innings. Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning for the Pirates. He blasted the second pitch into the seats to win the game and the series. The fans erupted to acknowledge Baseball's newest legend at home plate.

 

Minor League Sluggers

. Who is the Home Run King of Professional -Baseball in the U.S.A.? If you’re answer is Joe Bauman, you are correct. In 1954 he hit seventy-two home runs( As of year 2000). This six foot five inch, two hundred forty five pound first baseman played for the Roswell (New Mexico) Rockets in the Class C Longhorn League.

Recently, I spoke with Joe, who still lives in Roswell. He said that he used a Louisville Slugger, thirty five inches in length and weighing thirty-four ounces, Model S-2 Vern Stephens bat. Bauman, often called "Joltin Joe", was thirty-two years old when he hit his record-breaking seventy-two home runs. Until then, the Minor League record was sixty nine home runs, set in 1933 by Joe Hauser of the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. Hauser's record was tied in 1948 by Bob Crues of the Amarillo Gold Sox.

Bauman elected to remain in Roswell because his family was successfully established in business. What an outstanding year Joe had in 1954. Along with seventy-two home runs, he had two hundred twenty-four RBI's, four hundred fifty-six total bases, a .916 slugging percentage and a .400 batting average. The two' previous 'years at Ortesca, Bauman hit one hundred three home runs. (One hundred seventy-rive home runs in three years.) His Minor League career shows dime hundred thirty-seven home runs, one thousand fifty-seven RBI's and a .337 batting average. Joe is the only player to hit fifty home runs three consecutive years in Professional Baseball. He hit fifty home runs in 1952, fifty-three in 1953 and seventy-two in 1954. Yes, Joe Bauman is still the "Home Run King of the Minor Leagues".

Joe Hauser tells me by phone that he also used a Hillerich and Bradsby bat, thirty-four inches long and thirty-one ounces. He had his own personal model. Standing five feet, ten and one-half inches and weighing one hundred seventy-five pounds, Hauser was thirty-four years old when he hit his record sixty-nine home runs in 1933. He also hit sixty-three home runs in 1930 for the Orioles of the International League. Joe hit three hundred ninety-nine home runs in the Minor's and seventy-nine in the Major's. In 1924, he hit twenty-seven home runs playing for the Philadelphia A's, second only to Babe Ruth's forty-six for the New York Yankees. Today, Joe Hauser lives in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and was ninety-three years old on January 12, 1992.

Joe Bauman Picture

 

The Adirondacks

When Reggie Jackson, of the New York Yankees, hit three consecutive home runs in he sixth game of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he used an Adirondack "Big Stick" bat. The Adirondack bat has an interesting history. Sometime before World War II, Edwin McLaughin set up a small sawmill and woodworking shop in Dolgeville, New York. He produced dimension stock for the woodworking industry and billets for the producer's of baseball bats. In 1945 he was joined by Charles Millard and together they formed he partnership of McLaughlin and Millard. In the spring of 1946, McLaughlin and Millard began making baseball bats. They knew that they were located in an area plentiful with Northern White Ash, the best quality wood for manufacturing baseball bats. In that same year, Hal Schumacher, a very good friend, and former New York Giant pitcher joined the firm of McLaughin and Millard. His responsibility was managing professional and dealer sales for the business.

In June of 1969, Evan Baker joined Adirondack as president. One of his innovations was the bat-mobile. The bat-mobile was an airstream trailer equipped to handturn bats at various Major League spring Training camps. By providing this service, Adirondack converted many big leaguers to using the Adirondack "Big Stick". For example, in June of 1971, Joe Torre and Tony Oliva used the "Big Stick" and led their respective league in hitting.

In June of 1975, Rawling Sporting Goods merged with Adirondack. The improvements included updating facilities and increasing the sales of baseball bats. This year, it is projected that one and one-half million wood bats would be produced. In order to meet this quota, production will have to be set to nearly eight thousand bats per day.

The Trademark Legend and Boning the Bat

It was easy to realize that millions of baseball bats with a brand trademark are manufactured each year. Why are these Trademarks so vital? The philosophy of Hillerich and Bradsby on the Trademark states that " the strongest part of a wood bat is the grain. We brand our bats with the grain of the wood exactly ninety degrees either side of it. Therefore, if you keep the trademark up, the grain will be facing the pitcher, whether you are a right or left handed batter." It is important to remember that the turn of the batters' wrist may vary. This will determine the proper position of the Trademark in order to hit the ball on top the grain.

Years ago, baseball players would devote hours to boning three or four select bats from an order of twelve. In 1944, in the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse, I observed such players as Ron Northey, Buster Adams, Tony Lupien, and Bob Finley performing this procedure by using a mounted hambone attached to a table platform. On the hambone, they were rubbing the barrel of the bat against the grain to seal the pores, and to make the surface harder. Boning is, however, no longer necessary due to the sophisticated methods of treatment and the final finish used by bat manufacturers today.

Why Fungo?

In order to play well in the game c Baseball, relentless hours of practice are the utmost importance. To practice well teams should have two Fungo Sticks. Hillerich and Bradsby manufacture four models of Fungo Sticks. Three of these models are made of wood and used mostly by professionals. College and high school squads as well as other teams make the fourth model of aluminum for use.

The wood Infield Fungo is thirty-four inches in length with a thin handle and scaled down barrel. This bat is designed for control, accuracy and the ability to place t1i ball in all directions. Using this bat to lie] assimilate regular game conditions will give infielders the necessary practice to react properly during games. Resembling this Infield Fungo is Louisville's all-purpose Fungo, which is thirty-six inches long with larger barrel.

The Outfield Fungo Stick is thirty-seven inches long and has a thin handle well as a small barrel. It is mainly used to hit fly balls to outfielders. This will help improve their judgement and throwing skills. The extra length provides a whip like action necessary to hit balls with control and accuracy.

The newest Fungo is made of aluminum. It is thirty-five inches in length with a two and one quarter inch barrel. The handle is thin and white taped. Since the weight can be controlled, a twenty-four once Fungo is popular. Because of the versatility of the bat, only one model is necessary.

Warm-up Bats

Weighted on deck warm-up bats and other devices should be used with extreme caution. The five-foot on-deck circle gives the next batter an opportunity to prepare for his turn at bat. It is located thirteen feet behind home plate and thirty-seven feet to the right or left.

The Bratt on-deck bat is shaped like a regular bottle bat. It has a red plastic coating from the Trademark to the end of the two and five-eighths barrel. This bat weighs four pounds one once, and is thirty-four inches long. It is manufactured in Lynn Massachusetts.

Several years ago, Louisville Slugger came out with a 'whip-o-warm-up' bat. The handle up to the Trademark is made of wood and coated with rubber. From the Trademark to the end of the barrel there is solid rubber making the bat barrel very flexible, with whip like control. The bat weighs five pounds, is thirty-three inches long and has a one and three quarter inch barrel.

On the market today, there is a ten-inch rubber and plastic weighted sleeve that fits over the bat barrel. However, it was not as well received as other products. A round rubber ring, or doughnut-type device weighing four and one-half pounds is still considered one of the best.

Before products were made specifically for on-deck use, I can remember that in the mid thirties our coach drilled a hole in the barrel end of a regular bat and filled it with lead. He then painted wide rust colored (the only paint we had) stripe around the barrel with our school initials.

Today, SSK, a Japanese sporting goods company, makes a warm-up bat of Japanese White Ash; lead filled and painted two colors. One model weighs forty ounces and is thirty-three inches in length.

Whip-O-Warm-Up © Bernie Mussill, 2000

 


New and Improved

Born in New York on February 23,1963 Bobby Bonilla, newly acquired first baseman for the New York Mets, will use one of the Hillerich and Bradsby improved 1992 model bats. I have one of Bobby's bats in front of me, and above the Louisville Slugger he autographs his bat Roberto Bonilla. This genuine S-318 model has specifications that include a medium handle, a slightly larger than two and one-half inch diameter barrel, a thirty-five inch length and just over thirty-two ounces. The barrel is rounded and the center of balance is above the Trademark.

When you pick up this bat, it feels top heavy. Bonilla, being six foot three inches tall and weighing two hundred thirty pounds feels very comfortable with this style of bat. Bobby Bonilla uses a double knob on his bat similar to the turn of the century Nap Lajoie bat. The modern day version of the second knob is made of synthetic material and slips over the end of the bat. It is adjustable and can be removed from the bat at any time.

Some players have the ends of their bats 'cupped out'. This removes extra end weight and moves the center of balance toward the Trademark, giving the batter better whip-like control.

The Major League Rule Committee has specific criteria on cupped bats, which states "an indentation in the end of the bat up to one inch in depth is permitted and may be no wider than two inches and no less than one inch in diameter. The indentation must be curved with no foreign substances added."

 

Bobby Bonnilla's Picture


Georgie's Pine Tar Bat

George Brett of the Kansas City Royals caused quite a stir with his Hillerich and Bradsby pine tar bat of 1983. On July 24th, Brett hit a home run off Yankee reliever Goose Gossage in the ninth inning to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. Because the bat had pine tar beyond the legal limit of eighteen inches, measuring from the bat handle, the home plate umpire disallowed the round-tripper. As a matter of fact, I recall that Brett had pine tar halfway into the Louisville Slugger Trademark. However, this decision was later reversed and the pine tar home run did count. Kansas City defeated the Yankees, 5-4.

George Brett's Picture

 

 

 


The 'Clank' of the Bat

Amateur baseball players use aluminum baseball bats most commonly and the bats are here to stay. These bats, however, at first were not without problems. Some were not strong enough and would bend when hit with a baseball. At times, it was found that the rubber plug at the end of the bat would pop off. Replacement of the plug was necessary. For the most part, these problems have now been corrected.

Easton entered the team sports market with aluminum bats in 1970. Their metal working technology has produced one of the best-balanced and best performing bats in the world. Easton excels in the aluminum bat market at every level. Their bats were the choice of the Gold Medal winning United States Olympic baseball Team. Many college players, including those that participate in the College World Series, approach home plate with the high performance Easton bat in their grasp.

The Louisville Slugger Aluminum bats were introduced to baseball players in the early 1970's. The NCAA legalized aluminum bats in 1974. Louisville's plant is in Santa Fe, California because the high strength alloys of aluminum are produced in this region. The importance of these alloys is twofold:

Louisville produces over a million aluminum baseball bats a year.

With the proper technology and engineering, the aluminum tube of these bats is drawn to redistribute the walls with the desired weight. After tempering, the bat is tapered to the proper dimensions. Cleaning treatments and heat treatments are performed on each bat. They are straightened and, in some instances, the ends are spun closed or machined to accept an end plug. The bats are polished, anodized and silk-screened. Before these bats are labeled and packed for shipment, the plugs are put into place, the knobs are welded on the ends and they are gripped.


Metal vs. Wood

By comparison, the main differences between aluminum and wood bats are breakage and weight. Defective aluminum bats are minimal. Greater bat speed and greater distance on batted balls is the result of weight distribution and the ability to make the aluminum bats stiffer and lighter with a balance spot closer to the handle. The aluminum bats can be purchased with a two and three-fourths inch diameter barrel and up to five ounces less than length. The most popular models have large barrels and small handles along with weight at least three ounces lees than length. Presently, Some composites such as graphite are being offered in the market place. Until now, none have provided the performance equal to the aluminum bats.

click for picture

 

©Bernie Mussill, 2000

 


Bat + Ball = Excitement

Ever since the first recorded game, June 19, 1846 at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey, the Spirit of Baseball has swept America off its feet. Although changes have altered the sport throughout the years, the foundation upon which Baseball was built still remains the same. That foundation is the classic conflict between the pitcher and batter. It is this conflict that continues to amaze the older fans and attract the new ones.

Today I am confident that the current Major and Minor League players are grateful for all the improvements in the bat. These improvements, along with the changes, have developed throughout the last one hundred and fifty-two years. The pioneers of Baseball will never be forgotten. They are represented each time today's players step onto the field.

As the modern day Baseball Player continues to thrill baseball fans all over the world, the challenge continues. There will always be one more inning, one more game and one more season.

 


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