Sunday, August 03, 2008

America's pastime in Schenectady

The boys and I had a great morning yesterday. We headed over to the Schenectady Museum to take in their special baseball exhibit.

It was billed as the "The Science Behind Baseball." There was a little bit of science stuff. One display helped you figure out how to find the sweet spot on a bat. We also watched a short movie in which two kids conducted experiments to determine which bat sends the ball farther -- aluminum or wooden (their results gave aluminum the slight edge).

But it was mostly a great collection of baseball memorabilia -- particularly as it pertained to Schenectady and the surrounding region. There were lots of great old photos of the Schenectady Blue Jays -- a former farm team for the Phillies best known for producing future Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda. I also spotted a photo of a young Phil Rizzuto being interviewed on WGY.

There were also items on display from more recent memory, including lots of memorabilia from the Albany-Colonie Yankees and the Tri-City ValleyCats.

I would have liked to have spent more time looking at the old photos and reading all of the captions next to them, but the kids didn't have the patience for that.

The highlight for them was getting up close and personal with several of the VallyCats players (and their mascot, Southpaw). They each brought baseballs that were filled with signatures before long.

They also spent a good deal of time testing their arms against the radar gun. Nolan says his best pitch was 28 mph (although the highest I remember seeing was 27). Little Thomas topped out at 25 mph and even did a pretty good job of hitting the strike zone.

View more photos here.

1 comments: said...

August 5, 2008

Mr. Chris Rooney
Off The Top of My Head

Dear Chris:

I enjoyed reading your story on-line – “America’s Pastime in Schenectady” -- which touched on the sport of baseball and specifically on the bat issue. I represent a coalition in the baseball community known as Don't Take My Bat Away, which is supported by players, coaches, fans, parents, bat makers, and associations such as USA Baseball, Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, American Legion Baseball, PONY Baseball, among others. It is a group that supports "bat of choice" when it comes to selecting the type of bat one uses in the games of baseball and softball.

It’s important for your readers to know that any implication that the ball comes off a metal bat at a faster speed than it does off the finest wood ash bat has no validity. The third-party research below supports that conclusion:

1) Since 2003, metal bats used in high schools and colleges have been scientifically regulated so that the speed of the batted balls off metal bats is comparable to that of the best major league wood bat. This standard has been adopted by the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

2.) Bats used at the Little League level are governed by the BPF Standard which dictates that the rebound effect of the batted ball off non-wood bats cannot exceed the rebound effect of the batted ball off a wood bat. These standards (both BESR and BPF) are presented to bat makers which they must follow.

3.) A 2007 study on the "Non-Wood vs. Wood Bats" by Illinois State University concluded that "there was no statistically significant evidence that non-wood bats result in an increased incidence of severity of injury."

4.) In 2002 (before the current more restrictive performance regulations were in place), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated "Available incident data are not sufficient to indicate that non-wood bats may pose an unreasonable risk of injury." (April 5, 2002) Obviously, since then, new regulations have been put in place to reduce the performance ability of bats even more.

It’s very important to realize that baseball is a very safe sport, but accidents do happen – and they occur in games where wood bats are used and in games where metal bats are used. It’s also important to note that the overwhelming number of injuries in baseball take place due to a thrown ball or a collision. While baseball players in the big leagues use wood bats, that should not be the logic used to require wood bats at the lower levels because well over 99% of all players never make it past the college level. Why impose a standard on a player at a young age which will impede his (or her) ability to make contact with the ball, get a base hit, and enjoy the simple pleasures of the game? Restricting all players to a wood bat will discourage participation in the game – and that’s not a good thing. Current major league players like Alex Rodriquez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Gary Sheffield, and Carl Crawford all grew up using a metal bat and they are now thriving at the major league level.

And, in the 2006 College World Series (where a metal bat by today's standards was used), the batting average in all games was .277, the average number of home runs per game was 0.82, and the average number of runs per game per team was 5.2. In the 2006 American League season (where a wood bat was used), the batting average in all games was .275, the average number of home runs per game was 1.12, and the average number of runs per game per team was 5.2. As you can see, it's virtually identical -- with different bats.

I would also encourage you to visit our website ( and watch a video where there's an independent test on exit speeds of baseballs off wood and non-wood/metal bats. Once you get to our website, click on the "In the News" section. There's a still picture of one of the players in the "test" video and a clickable link which will enable you to watch the short segment -- about two minutes long.


Mike May
Don't Take My Bat Away
6650 West Indiantown Road -- Suite 220
Jupiter, FL 33458
p: 561.427.0657
f: 561.427.0648
c: 561.317.6111

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