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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid