The Names of Famous Baseball Bats
Baseball is a game that is part of the fabric of U.S. culture. Parents often teach the game to their children and those children teach the game to theirs. Baseball carries a certain romanticism from generation to generation. The romanticism carries on to equipment manufacturers and players, who provide names to the bats they produce and use.
The Louisville Slugger is the name of the famous bat manufacturing company in Louisville, Kentucky. It is also the name of the first bat ever produced by the company, which was a woodworking shop in the 19th century. J.F. Hillerich owned the thriving business and his son, Bud, was an employee and an amateur baseball player. When Louisville baseball player Pete Browning broke his bat in 1884, the younger Hillerich volunteered to make him a new one. Browning took him up on his offer and got three hits with the bat in the next game. Browning dubbed the bat the Louisville Slugger.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the best hitters in the game. His brilliant career was tarnished by his association with the 1919 Chicago White Sox, which took a bribe to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Jackson was a dominant hitter who won the admiration of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Jackson batted .356 for his career and hit .408 in 1911 for the White Sox. Jackson used a bat named Black Betsy to dominate American League pitchers. The bat was 34-1/2 inches long, weighed 40 oz. and was made of hickory. It was also soaked in oil to give it a dark finish.
Babe Ruth's War Club
Babe Ruth is the most legendary player in the game's history and was Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader with 714 home runs until Hank Aaron eclipsed that record in 1974. Aaron's record was subsequently broken by Barry Bonds, but Ruth remains one of the game's most endearing legends. One of the reasons for that was the size of the bat Ruth used. Nobody ever came close to using a bat the size of Ruth's famous 54 oz. War Club, so named because of its massive size. Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb both used 42 oz. bats, neither ever attempted to negotiate a bat that was comparable to Ruth's. Since the 1980s, players have used lighter bats to generate more bat head speed and it is rare for a modern-day bat to weigh more than 38 oz.
The 1984 movie "The Natural" featured Robert Redford as the fictional slugger Roy Hobbs. Hobbs used a bat that was cut from a lightning-struck tree to emerge as a hero who took his losing team to first place. Hobbs kept his bat named Wonder Boy in a protective pouch to preserve its mystical powers.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.