Springer: What’s in a bat? Inside the process of bat manufacturing

From Stephanie Springer at The Hardball Times on September 7, 2018:

A tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory gives visitors a sawdust-covered glimpse at the manufacturing process behind the world’s most iconic baseball bat. Here’s a condensed version: the factory receives stacks upon stacks of cylindrical wood billets; the billets are shaped into baseball bats; the Louisville Slugger insignia is branded onto the bat; the bats are then finished with a player’s choice of coating.

Much like the story of Pete Browning initiating a booming baseball bat business, some of the details of the tour are a bit fuzzy. But regardless of the details of how the Louisville Slugger, the player, came to use a Louisville Slugger, the baseball bat, we attribute Andrew “Bud” Hillerich with the realization that the tools and techniques of his family’s woodworking business could be applied to baseball. However, the modern baseball bats of today are a far cry from the PB1 model bat, as Louisville Slugger and its competitors have applied new technologies and processes from other industries to bat manufacturing.

As simple as wooden bat-making appears, there have been many changes in the process over the years. There are still people who hand carve bats, but more often than not, companies are trading in their calipers for computer aided design and computer numerical controlled (CNC) automated lathes. The most commonly discussed change has been the shift from hickory to ash to maple as the primary wood of choice. This goes far beyond the simple selection of a type of tree; when you look at the wooden bat-making process as a whole, there is still much more room for innovation. Let’s walk through the manufacturing process as it stands now, and consider some changes that could be made in the future.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/whats-in-a-bat-inside-the-process-of-bat-manufacturing/

Originally published: September 7, 2018. Last Updated: September 7, 2018.