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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid