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Baseball bat

From Academic Kids

In baseball, a bat is a round, smooth stick used in hitting the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. It is not more than 2 3/4 inches (70 mm) in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches (1067 mm) in length. The batter uses the bat in an attempt to hit a pitched ball fair so that he may become a runner, advance bases, and ultimately score a run or help preceding runners to score.

Although it is a somewhat simple concept—a stick to hit a ball with, the bat is a complex object. It is carved or constructed very carefully to allow for a quick balanced swing, while providing power. The bat is divided into several regions. The barrel is the thick part of the bat, where the bat is meant to hit the ball. The part of the barrel best for hitting the ball with — due to construction and swinging style — is often called the sweet spot. The end of the barrel is not part of the sweet spot, and is simply called the tip or end of the bat. The barrel narrows down, and becomes the handle. The handle is very thin, so that batters can comfortably set the bat in their fingers. Sometimes, especially on metal bats, the handle is wrapped with a rubber or cloth grip. Finally, next to the handle is the knob of the bat, a wider piece that keeps the bat from sliding off of a batter's hands.

In professional baseball, only wooden bats are permitted, and they are not allowed to be corked. In amateur baseball, both wood and metal alloy bats are generally permitted, although many amateur "wooden bat leagues" do exist, and the trend back to wood seems to be accelerating on the grounds of safety concerns, since the lighter metal bats, in allowing greater distance to be achieved with less batter strength, also hit the ball at a greater velocity, and there is statistical evidence, if sometimes contested, of more injuries and even deaths with the metal bat.

Most wooden bats are made from ash. Other woods used include maple, hickory, and bamboo. Hickory has fallen into disfavor because it is much heavier than other woods. Maple is increasing in popularity based on the success Barry Bonds has had using maple bats.

Within the standards set by the various leagues, there is ample latitude for individual variation, and many batters settle on an individual bat profile, or occasionally adopt a profile used by another batter. Formerly, bats were hand-carved to a template obtained from a fixed number of calibration points; today, they are machine-turned to a precise metal template: these templates are kept in the bat manufacturers' vaults; for example, Babe Ruth's template, which became understandably popular among major-league players, is B43 in the Louisville Slugger archives. Once the basic bat has been turned, it is then branded by burning, with the manufacturer's name, the serial number, and often the signature of the player for whom it was made: the brand is applied to the hard side of bat, allowing the batter visual control of the hardness of the surface hitting the ball; the burn residue is then sanded off. (The first player to endorse and sign a bat was Honus Wagner.) The next step is the finishing of the head: bats are more often given a rounded head, but some 30% of players prefer a "cup-balanced" head, in which a cup-shaped recess is made in the head; this lightens the bat and moves its center of gravity toward the handle. Finally, the bat is stained in one of 7 standard colors, among which natural white, red stain, black, and a two-tone blue and white stain.

In high school baseball in the United States, the bat is not allowed to be more than 2 5/8 inches (67 mm) in diameter. It must have a drop of no more than minus three. A 42‑inch (1067‑mm) bat would weigh at least 39 ounces (1.1 kg).

In most 12-year-old-and-under youth leagues (such as Little League Baseball, PONY League Baseball, and Cal Ripken League Baseball), the bat may not be more than 2 1/4 inches (57 mm) in diameter.

Hillerich & Bradsby, which produces the Louisville Slugger, Wilson Sporting Goods, and Rawlings are popular makers of baseball bats.

Baseball bats may be also used as weapon. In some countries where baseball is not popular, bats are associated mostly with crime.

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