Baseball at the Breaking Point? The Controversy Over Maple Bats

Landis MarksSenior Analyst IMay 9, 2008

Maple bats have got to go.

I have become convinced of this. For years now I have read horror stories about how spears of maple shards have been flying around endangering players, coaches, and fans alike.

I must say at first I didn’t think much of it, since all bats break, including the trusty ash bats that dominated baseball until recently. But there is a difference in the way that the two woods come apart on an off sweet-spot hit.

Hot-hitting Nate McLouth almost killed Don Long, the Pirates hitting coach with shards of his splintered maple bat.

The scar on Don Long’s left cheek still puffs around the edges, fresh enough that it looks like a misplaced zipper instead of the mark of someone who lived too hard. Like every scar, this one has a story, and it involves a piece of shattered wood, about two pounds heavy, that tomahawked 30 feet before slicing through his face.

Jeff Passan on baseball at the breaking point.