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Little League places ban on composite baseball bats

Dec 30, 2010, 7:41 PM EDT

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Fairly big news here out of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee, which operates all divisions of Little League Baseball, including the Little League World Series, has issued an immediate and complete moratorium on the use of composite bats.

Composite bats, which sell for upwards of $300, first popped onto the amateur baseball scene in the early 2000s.  Made of not only aluminum, but also wrapped in woven graphite, they generate far more power and allow for faster bat speeds via better swing weight management.

Today, Little League decided that the technology was beginning to put youth at risk.  When struck well, baseballs will fly off of composite bats at much higher rates of speed than regular old aluminum models.

“[This] decision of the Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee is based on scientific research data from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), which was contracted by Little League Baseball,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a press release.  “There is a process through which manufacturers can submit individual models for a possible waiver if they wish to seek it. Going forward, we will let our leagues know which ones meet the standards for the Little League Baseball (Majors) 12-and-under divisions, if any.”

Little League parents all around the country are surely wondering why this decision wasn’t made before the holiday season, when big-money bats do big business both online and at sporting goods suppliers.

Other youth baseball leagues seem likely to follow suit.

  1. jkcalhoun - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    I think it’s a fine move in the interest of safety, but with or without waivers that may be granted for some models, how are Little League umpires — mostly volunteers — going to tell the difference between models that are allowed and models that aren’t allowed without a catalog?

  2. JM Lattanzi - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:58 PM

    I don’t quite understand the need for composite bats in Little League, anyway. Looking at the field dimensions at Williamsport shows 205 feet to all fields.

    The way to solve some of the problems mentioned right here about umpires is to ‘register’ bats in the league. The umpire would have the list and any bats not on the list would not be permitted in the dugout. Of course, this raises some bureaucratic issues that would have to be resolved.

    • jkcalhoun - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:27 PM

      They might not need them, but no doubt there are parents out there who will pay whatever it takes for their little leaguers’ 200-foot drives to turn into 210-foot drives.

      I found a list of approved composite bats for Junior, Senior, and Big League play here. Apparently umpires and other officials at those levels are expected to know their stuff.

      Somewhere a Little League manager is even now poring over his copy of the rulebook to find a way to use rules about equipment to his advantage, Billy Martin-style.

      • JM Lattanzi - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:49 PM

        Yes, the training for umpires definitely includes bat recognition, as sad as that is.

        When I umpired Little League ball 10 years ago, it wasn’t as complicated – it was as plain as day which bats were not proper. Nowadays, composites are made to look like run of the mill aluminum bats, which means full inspection is necessary sometimes.

    • jolaf757 - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Little League didn’t do anything because of safety concerns. Composite barrel bat bans have become the norm because lawyers believe there are liability issues. Composite barrels have not been proven to hit balls farther or make your bat swing faster. Composite material works differently than aluminum for different types of players. Normally, a smaller kid with average swing speed can get more pop off a composite barrel but a large strong kid with good swing speed doesn’t get much benefit at all. Their “testing” goes only as far as they would like it to and to place immediate bans on bats that kids already own (perhaps a new Christmas gift) is unwarranted and highly irresponsible. To make a plan to transition out of one type of product in favor of another over a course of a year is the right way to go. That gives consumers, retailers and manufacturers the chance to figure things out.

      Wood is a decent option for low ages, but anyone involved in the financials for programs over the age of 12 realize costs soar far too high. High schools in North Dakota have transferred to wood and many programs either have to pass that expense on to the player or the programs have been dropped due to the cost of supplying wood bats.

      Sidenote for bobsbats – only composite barrels are banned, not half and halfs. The DeMarini C6 composite and the CF4 only. DeMarini is trying to get similar leniency for these two bats like they did for senior league and adult bats.

  3. fribnit - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    GO BACK TO WOOD.

    • bigharold - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:49 AM

      Simple but dead on accurate.

      Why not? The entire reason to go to non-wood bats was money, .. they don’t break or crack. Well, how many 20-25 dollar wooden LL bats can you replace for the cost of ONE $300 composite bat?

      • samcxa - Jan 2, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        There is enough wood to go back but expect to pay $80 to $100 dollars for quality bats. Know that scouts only look at prospects that use wood. Wood is an investment in any players future hitting.

        I suspect it will be awhile before LL gets back to wood even though the forrest is ready. Sam

  4. Rick - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    I respect Little League studies.

    I believe it was Little League that introduced the batting helmet in 1959. Little League participated in the development of the aluminum bat, becasue at the time, the fly off the bat was a slight softer than wood bats.
    Little League is the only youth league, at the younger level, that does not allow stealing bases – based on insurance reports of injuries.
    Good decision Little League

  5. ndnut - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:16 PM

    What has our country come to?! We are buying $300 baseball bates for little leaguers to hit the ball 10-20 ft. farther. What parent or relative does that to their kid? I think that the kid would feel more pressure if their parents buy them $500 worth of equipment.

    • bigharold - Dec 31, 2010 at 1:02 AM

      As the father of an 8 year old LL’er I refuse to but extraordinarily expense equipment for my son. His LL experience should be about learning the game, learning to love the game and understanding teamwork. Not chest bumps, elaborate high fives or showboating. If he doesn’t enjoy it what’s the point?

      At the end of the day it’s about HIM learning the game not me reveling in his exploits or accomplishments. If he has the talent AND the desire he will go as far as that talent and desire takes him regardless of his spiffy cleats or batting gloves or $300 bats.

      I don’t think that Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Pete Rose or Roberto Clemente ever needed any of that stuff and if my son has it in him he won’t need it either. And if he doesn’t have it him, .. well there is always law school. He’s already a great arguer!

      • sulomak - Dec 31, 2010 at 11:05 AM

        i wanna see how fast you reach into your pocket if that 9yo select manager approaches you and asks for your son to tryout. Can see it now—wilson A2000, cf4, nike shox, $75 bat bag etc.

    • chilton316 - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:47 PM

      Just thought I’d respond … Louisville Slugger TPX Maverick YB96M Youth Baseball Bat (-11) Overview – Online stores – Details
      $64 online and in the store
      (not $300)

      This is the bat we bought for our son for Christmas 2010 … our son is 9 (10 in June), 4’10, and 116 lbs … he’s ALWAYS been a big hitter, hard off the bat, homeruns, he is a little babe ruth. We bought this bat at Academy because he needed the length –31in and 20 oz. weight … two in the park homeruns, and two over the fence in the past month, and on Saturday, he was told (while at bat) that he cannot use his bat because it is a composite bat. So, we’ve retired the bat, and are excited to see his next homerun with a broomstick or whatever he hits with!

  6. speakerforthedead52 - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    It’s always about the money, isn’t it?

  7. raysfan1 - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    Guarantee parents/coaches will try to use ‘em anyway. There were teams in my 5-yr-old’s T-ball league that tried to get away with illegal bats and balls.

  8. bobsbats - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    Would this include the DeMarini type bat that has a composite shaft, but an Aluminum Barrel ? They
    market the bat as LL approved because its half and half……

    • scsweeney - Jan 7, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      I’d like to know!

  9. waromando - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    The ban pertains mainly to the “COMPOSITE” bats such as the “two” piece bats and it concerns the “Senoir” and “Junior” leagues… the older kids…some leagues are still allowing Aluminum bats…

    It is a safety issue…

    Even pitching to the younger kids, 46 feet away, I’ve had some 12 year olds knock the ball back at me pretty hard…

    When you have to start measuring numbers like BESR – Ball Exit Speed Ratio…and you start questioning whether people are rolling the bats to alter their properties…you already have your answer whether or not people think they are safe or not…

    No need to rationalize safety…

    Other than wood bats break and splinter, what is wrong with wood?
    I still have a wood bat from the 1980s

  10. knlldad - Jan 1, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    I truly feared for some of the little league majors infielders and pitchers safety when a good strong hitter came up to bat with the older composite bats. I think this was a good ruling. The one thing that is kind of suspect is the timing of the ruling. It should have been done at the conclusion of the season, not after Christmas. I know a lot of dads who just flushed several hundred dollars down the toilet buying bats this last month that they won’t be able to use.

  11. homerun20 - Jan 1, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    Is Little League just allowing alloy & wood bats?

  12. mamccarron - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    The reason kids use composite bats is due to their low weight. A $300 bat lets a kid get around faster when facing a
    5’10″ pitcher throwing 68mph from 40′ away. Also the barrel of the bat can be made so the maximum width extends
    further down the bat. Little League changed the age cutoff rules to allow older kids to participate in their sacred
    LL World Series. Too many kids today look ridiculous playing on a little league field, when they’re almost 6′ they
    belong there. Many children today are much larger than they were when the rules were written.

  13. jonaowen - Jan 9, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    I agree that the use of composite bats is a safely issue in youth baseball (has been for about 5 years). However, it is obvious that L.L. and the bat manufacturers were working together on the date of the ban announcement. It’s not coincidental that it came just days after Christmas. I just wonder how many kids got a new $200 bat, maybe as their only gift, which cannot now be used. If L.L. is at all concerned about the kid’s safety it is only from the perspective of liability, not about their concern for a child. They did not have any concerns for safety when they allowed 13 year olds to play on a youth field, but I’m sure that change increased viewing and revenues for the Little League World Series. Everyone wanted to see 6’4” 200+ plus pound homerun kings hitting on 200 ft field. Little League is only concerned with the big money and they set the pace for the other youth baseball organizations.

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