Why do modern-day sluggers like Aaron Judge or Miguel Sano prefer maple bats over the traditional ash bats swung by Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew and others? Why did the surge of broken bats in the early 21st century create a crisis for Major League Baseball and what steps were taken to address the issue? Are different woods being considered by players and manufacturers? Why do the forest management challenges of insect outbreaks, disease spread, and climate change pose a problem long-term?
STEPHEN M. BRATKOVICH is a retired forester and wood products specialist with the U.S. Forest Service and Dovetail Partners, Inc., in the Twin Cities. He has been an SAF member for nearly 50 years. All author royalties from The Baseball Bat will be donated to non-profit organizations.