This article was written by Al Kermisch
This article was published in the 1989 Baseball Research Journal
In 1894 the regulation length of a bat was 42 inches, just as it is today. In a game played at the Polo Grounds on August 22 of that year, a Chicago player actually used a bat that was almost six feet long. A theatrical man named Frank McKee, manager of the Madison Square Theatre, presented Chicago’s Jimmy Ryan with a bat five feet, ten inches long and five inches in diameter at the thickest part.
When Bill Lange, who had been struck out twice by pitcher Jouett Meekin, came to bat in the eighth inning, he surprised the players, spectators, and umpires by carrying the oversized bat with him. He pleaded with umpire. John McQuaid to let him try it just once. Neither McQuaid nor the Giants, who were six runs ahead, objected, and the crowd howled happily. A big roar went up when Lange hit an easy grounder to first baseman Jack Doyle, who fumbled the ball for an error. Next batter Charlie Irwin also wanted to use the big bat, but Manager John Ward of the Giants objected and the umpire had the oversized lumber returned to the bench. New York won the game 8-5.