Teri Silver is a journalist, commercial copywriter, editor, broadcast anchor, and Public Relations Specialist.
"Crack" Vs. "Ping!"
You’re sitting in the grandstand, watching a college baseball game. The batter, the kid they call “Big John,” sets his stance at the plate and stares down the pitcher. The ball is thrown, the batter swings and …. “ping!” He connects with the ball, sending it deep to the outfield and over the fence. The crowd goes wild; you move your head slightly, glancing at the baseball talent scout who is sitting behind home plate and feverishly writing something in a notebook. Clearly, the baseball scout is impressed with the batter. But how far would that baseball have traveled if it had been hit with a wooden bat? Would the angle be different? How about the velocity? These are important questions because aluminum baseball bats are not used in Major League Baseball.
College players can participate in summer leagues that are geared to teach, among other things, professional baseball-hopefuls how to hit that little white ball with the old-fashioned wooden bat.
Why Aluminum Baseball Bats Are Used
First introduced in 1970, aluminum bats are sturdier, durable and less expensive than most wooden bats. Thus, community “little leagues,” local school districts and most colleges and university baseball teams use aluminum bats instead of those made out of wood. While arguments remain on both sides of the coin as to whether aluminum bats are better than wooden ones for top hitting performance, safety issues and longevity, the cost of both types is an important consideration.
Hey College Kids, Do You Have Dreams of Playing Professional Baseball?
You do? OK, great, get started. If you have only played baseball using aluminum bats, you must learn to hit and practice with wood. Hitters -- you can adjust and perfect your swing. Pitchers -- you will learn the differences in hurling the ball toward a hitter who is swinging a wooden bat instead of an aluminum one. But one important reason to learn how to play baseball with wooden bats -- and join an NCAA-sanctioned team -- is that these leagues are sponsored in part by Major League Baseball. Talent scouts are likely to be at select collegiate summer games. The MLB and its minor-league affiliates use wooden bats.
Summer Collegiate Wooden-Bat Baseball Leagues
Summer Collegiate Wooden-Bat Baseball Leagues are amateur organizations that operate from June to early August. Baseball players must be of amateur status as defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA,) be enrolled at an NCAA school and have at least one year of athletic eligibility. In addition to the NCAA, Major League Baseball offers its financial support to summer collegiate wooden-bat baseball leagues throughout the country.
Most Summer Collegiate Wooden-Bat Baseball teams have community support in the way of “host families” that will house the players throughout the summer league season. Jobs may be available for those who ask for them. Sponsors help to provide equipment and transportation.
College baseball players, get noticed! Here are a few leagues to check out (some may not be NCAA-sanctioned). Ask your college baseball coach how to join a wooden-bat summer baseball team and advice on which league may be best for you.
- Coastal Plain League
A summer collegiate baseball league covering North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
- Home Page | New England Collegiate Baseball League
The NECBL plays its season in the six New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
- Prospect League
The Prospect League is made up of teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Missouri.
- Texas Collegiate League
Features teams from around the state of Texas.
- The Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League
This league plays baseball in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
- Cape Cod Baseball
This league is in Massachusetts.
- Florida Collegiate Summer League
The Florida Collegiate Summer League is a wood bat baseball league with six teams in Central Florida.
- The New York Collegiate Baseball League .
The NYCBL has teams in New York state.
Summer wooden-bat leagues that are sanctioned by the NCAA adhere to the rules of the organization, so that players can retain their eligibility. Rules include how player uniforms are to be worn, the conditions of the playing field and equipment such as mitts, balls and bats.
NCAA Baseball rules: Section 12a. Wood Bat
“The bat must be a smooth, rounded stick not more than 2¾ inches in diameter at its thickest part nor more than 42 inches in length. There must be a direct line from the center of the knob to the center of the large end. Any material to improve the grip may be used for a distance not to exceed 18 inches from the end of the handle. It is mandatory that all bats have an identification mark 18 inches from the end of the handle. An indentation in the end of the bat up to 1 inch in depth is permitted (cupped bats). All bats other than one-piece solid wood must be certified in accordance with the NCAA certification program.”
NCAA rules are updated periodically, and are available to coaches, players and umpires.
Now Is the Time ...
To make your plans for baseball after the college season is over. Summer will be here before you know it!
© 2014 Teri Silver