Worth Bat Company introduced its first aluminum bat in 1970.
Easton Aluminum soon followed. Hillerich & Bradsby Co. introduced its first aluminum youth and softball bats in 1971. In 1972, the company introduced its first adult aluminum baseball bat. Alcoa made Louisville Slugger aluminum bats until 1978, when H&B purchased Alcoa's factory and began manufacturing its own bats.
The growth of aluminum bats was swift.
Little League Baseball, Inc. approved them for play in 1971.
The last vestige of amateur ball to approve aluminum, the NCAA,
did so in 1974. Aluminum bat sales had surpassed wood bat sales by 1975. However, professional baseball did not approve aluminum, and has not done so to this day. Today, aluminum bats dominate all amateur softball and baseball play. While there has been an increase in wood bat usage by amateurs in recent years, aluminum still remains the leading material used.
The rapid rise of aluminum bat usage was motivated by two issues of the day: economics and safety.
In that era of declining funding for non-revenue producing sports in high schools and colleges, cutting costs became paramount. One way to reduce expenses was to purchase a few heavy, thick-barreled, durable aluminum bats rather than the dozens of wood bats a typical baseball team would go through in a season. The reasoning was simple: The aluminum bats lasted longer, and a team needed fewer of them. Although the aluminum bats cost more per unit, the decreased number of bats purchased more than made up the difference in price.
There was also a concern among some that wood bats were dangerous products. A fastball, for example, hit on the handle or the flat of the grain (the weakest part of a wood bat) could result in the bat breaking. A jagged piece of a wood bat barrel hurtling through the air towards the pitcher was a sobering sight to many. Consequently, many who wanted to switch from wood to aluminum put the alleged safety factor forth.
The 1980's and early 90's saw increased research and development by aluminum companies in the area of new alloys for the aerospace industry. Lighter and stronger aluminum soon found its way into other type of products, including softball and baseball bats. Amateur organizations became concerned over the question of "too much offense" in the traditional game caused by aluminum bats. The safety of bats, once again, became a concern to some.
In 1998 the College Game lost complete control. In the World Series Championship Game USC Beat Arizona State 21-14. Both teams were using -5 weight ratio 2-3/4 barrel bats that had balls exploding off of bats. Several pitchers were injured in the 1999-2000 seasons. Combining the bats with the height of the steroid era caused the NCAA to do something about the bats. The NCAA put together a research team and released a BESR standard which reduced batted ball speed, increased the weight and decreased the barrel size. In 2011 NCAA Division I baseball made BBCOR the standard for all games. Every High School in the US followed. This nearly eliminated the metal bat. Players could almost get the same distance with a Maple or Wooden Bat. Wooden Bats have surged in popularity in Amateur Players since 2011.
Many Adult Leagues were formed in the late 1990's.
All of these bats were formed with Metal Bats. Regulations usally lag 5 years behind NCAA Standards in most leagues.
But with the evolution of the BBCOR alot of leagues are going to Wooden Bats.|
Many players that play in Adult Leagues were good players who have taken some time off since they played competitively.
Metal Bats BESR are the ideal bat for adult league players.
The one thing most lacking in adult leagues is hitting.
Most players who play in Adult Leagues don't have much time for practice.
They goto the games and play and then they leave, the next time they pick up a bat is at their next game.
Many leagues across the United States are going to Wood Bats exclusively.
They will quickly see this is a big mistake.
I have personally seen every kind of Baseball League in the US that exists from the high level (Arizona Fall League) to (55+ Men's Adult League Game). Wooden Bats are great for players who are college summer league players age 25 and under.
Any adminstrator who thinks about turning his league into wood should think twice. This is a debate that is not going away but from experience metal BESR is the way to go.
I have personally been a part of three leagues that were wooden bat.
I started one of the original wooden bat leagues in 2002 and by the all star break we had to switch back to metal or we were going to lose all of our players. We had one problem all three times. Can't find hitters who can even compete with our pitching. If you are set on getting a wood bat league, you better make it in the summer and you better get 1/2 of your team to be college players.
- #1 the Cost of the bats should be considered. In a Men's League you never seen consistant pitching which means your timing won't be perfect, thus rolling over balls and hitting balls of the end will break your bats.
- #2 Enjoyment of participation should be considered. No one wants to play in a game where they score is 2-1 and guys are bunting and stealing. They took all of the astroturf and small ball away in the 1980's. Guys want to go out and go 2-4 and enjoy being out there. None of these players are getting recruited to play anywhere so enjoy playing the day you are playing.
- #3 Success Ratio-You will lose players in a game that is 2-1 and the pitchers have 15 strikeouts on each side. After the game everyone went 0-3 except one guy who went 1-3. Tight games turn into games of stress on the running game which is not an adult league game.