MLB and Forest Service Team Up to Reduce Frequency of Shattered Bats
According to Louisville Slugger, one of the nation's oldest and most well known producer of wood baseball bats, it takes nearly 40,000 trees to produce one season's worth of baseball bats and the company alone produces 1.6 million wood bats each year!
So it's no surprise that the US Forest Service has decided to team up with Major League Baseball in order to ensure that we preserve as many bats as possible.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the results of innovative research by the U.S. Forest Service, and funded by MLB, that will result in significantly fewer shattered baseball bats.
"This innovative research by the U.S. Forest Service will make baseball games safer for players and fans across the nation," said Secretary Vilsack. "The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory has once again demonstrated that we can improve uses for wood products across our nation in practical ways — making advancements that can improve quality of life and grow our economy."
Testing and analyzing thousands of shattered Major League bats, U.S. Forest Service researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) developed changes in manufacturing that decreased the rate of shattered maple bats by more than 50 percent since 2008. While the popularity of maple bats is greater today than ever before, the number of shattered bats continues to decline.
The joint Safety and Health Advisory Committee of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association began working to address the frequency of bats breaking into multiple pieces five years ago. FPL wood experts looked at every broken Major League bat from July to September during the 2008 MLB season.
The research team found that inconsistency of wood quality, primarily the manufacturing detail "slope of grain," for all species of wood used in Major League bat manufacture was the main cause of broken bats. Also, low-density maple bats were found to not only crack but shatter into multiple pieces more often than ash bats or higher-density maple bats. Called multiple-piece failure, shattered bats can pose a danger on the field and in the stands.
Slope of grain refers to the straightness of the wood grain along the length of a bat. Straighter grain lengthwise means less likelihood for breakage.
Read more at the USDA Forest Service.
Baseball and bat image via Shutterstock.