It’s been about nearly 9 years since Barry Bonds broke the single season home run record while using a Maple Baseball Bat throughout the season. That magical season in baseball was the showcase year for Maple Bats. Although players like Joe Carter used Maple even as far back as in the late 1980’s, maple never really took off until the 2001 season when Bonds crushed 73 home runs to break the single season homerun record in baseball. From that point on, maple surged into more and more hands in baseball…and maple hasn’t looked back ever since.
A lot of things in our society turn out to be fads, and never survive the trying times. Maple baseball bats are beginning to silence the critics who have been loud advocates against maple. There have been multiple instances where maple has been the culprit of major injuries in baseball. A prime example was during the 2008 season when Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach Don Long was hit in the face just below the eyes by a huge chunk of Nate McLouth’s maple bat during the eighth inning of a game at Dodgers Stadium. Witnesses say that chunk seemed to be about half of the bat. Just ten days later, another maple bat chunk flew out of the hands of the Colorado Rockies Todd Helton and flew into the stands and broke the jaw of a Dodgers fan.
A lot of players worried about the safety of their teammates, coaches and fans have even switched from Maple to Ash or Birch. Including a few seasons back, when Frank Thomas and Eric Chavez switched from Maple to Birch, and Jason Bay switched back to Ash from Birch.
A 2005 study commissioned by the MLB found that there was no difference in how fast the ball comes off a maple or ash bat. But still maple seems to give hitters a confidence that ash does not. Although the exact number of players who swing maple in the MLB is unknown, it is certain that it is a majority; with some reports estimating the number at 60 to 70 percent.
There also is undoubtedly a longer life span with Maple. Various studies have found that the average life span of a Maple Bat in the MLB is about a month, versus about a week long life span for Ash. So while there are concerns among MLB officials about the safety risks associated with Maple Baseball Bats, Bat Manufactures are working hard alongside MLB officials to create a solution to the safety risks; aside from prohibiting maple bats from baseball.
Throughout all of the issues and controversy and worries surrounding Maple Baseball Bats, the demand is still there, and the popularity is still growing. Maple bats may see some troubling times, but it seems like the new wood bat king is here to stay.