News / USA

New Ergonomic Design Could Give Round Baseball Handles the Axe

That's the axe bat on top, in comparison to the traditional round bat handle at the bottom. (T. Banse/VOA)
That's the axe bat on top, in comparison to the traditional round bat handle at the bottom. (T. Banse/VOA)
Tom Banse
There's an age-old tension between honoring tradition and embracing innovation.

A family-owned sporting goods company in suburban Seattle is confronting that tension in the sport of baseball. The company is going to market with what it calls a better baseball bat.

The traditional round-handled baseball bat has been a fixture on sand lots and in stadiums around much of the world for more than a century. Back when bats were turned out on a lathe, there was good reason for the symmetrical design.

But now, computer-guided machine tools can churn out any shape you want, including a more ergonomic design, such as that of an axe handle.

Ergonomic design

"[The axe handle] has been around forever, and there's a reason why," said former baseball coach Rusty Trudeau.

Trudeau is now a national account manager for Baden Sports of Renton, in the northwest U.S. state of Washington.

The company's patented Axe Bat has the usual barrel, but while a traditional bat has a circular knob at the base of a round handle, the new bat has an oval grip and an angled knob.

Trudeau says the redesign offers better bat control, more power and lower risk of hand injuries.

"That round knob protruding into the palm - or the hamate bone area of your hand - creates a lot of injuries," he said. "In fact, when we presented to Major League Baseball, that was a key factor in our presentation -- keeping the money in the game, preventing injury and hand fatigue."

Baden is a 35-year-old sporting goods company better known until now as a ball supplier. It licensed the axe-handled bat design from New York woodworker Bruce Leinert, who invented and patented it.

"If we can't bring something new and help people do better at whatever sport they choose, then we don't think it is worth pursuing," said CEO Michael Schindler, explaining why the company is branching out into bats.
 
The company's baseball and softball bats range from $50 to $300, which places them in the middle to upper price tiers.

Fighting tradition

Schindler is impatient to see players try out and adopt the new bat style. His company has embarked on what could be a lengthy campaign to convince players to try something new.
Timberline High School players in Lacey, Washington, used the axe bat in warmups, but stayed with the traditional bats for the actual game. (T. Banse/VOA).Timberline High School players in Lacey, Washington, used the axe bat in warmups, but stayed with the traditional bats for the actual game. (T. Banse/VOA).
x
Timberline High School players in Lacey, Washington, used the axe bat in warmups, but stayed with the traditional bats for the actual game. (T. Banse/VOA).
Timberline High School players in Lacey, Washington, used the axe bat in warmups, but stayed with the traditional bats for the actual game. (T. Banse/VOA).


There were several of the new bats in the dugout for a recent showdown of high school baseball division leaders in Lacey, Washington.

The Timberline High School team used one in warm-ups, but during the actual game all the players wielded regular bats. They reverted to what they knew best, says Tyler Gartner, an infielder and pitcher who has tried the new style bat.

"I like the pop from it, he said. "The flaw is the handle a little bit because you can't move your hand around as much."

Gartner likes to rotate his grip, but he thinks the new design has a chance of catching on with players with different preferences.

Timberline High School coach Matt Acker also figures the axe handle bat will eventually capture some market share, especially with the youngest players, who are among the most open to equipment change.

"It automatically feels better to a younger kid. If you give it - and I have, I have handed them - to younger kids that are 7 years old and you just let them pick one, they'll pick that one because it feels the best," Acker said. "It just feels natural to you."

Acker says change takes time in baseball. Superstition is also a factor.

Trudeau, of bat maker Baden Sports, appreciates what he's up against. "Baseball is a very tradition-driven sport. That is a challenge at times."

He allows many players to test the unusual bat. He's also signed a number of college teams to swing the axe-handled bat. Baden, though, has a smaller advertising budget than its bigger competitors. Trudeau hopes to get more high-profile endorsers as college players turn pro.

"We really think we're going to overcome," he said. "We know we're going to overcome this. This is going to be the handle of the future."

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More