CRACK THAT BAT— Cal Ripken baseball has mandated new rules for youth baseball bats that will go into effect Jan. 1. 
Herald Photo / File
CRACK THAT BAT— Cal Ripken baseball has mandated new rules for youth baseball bats that will go into effect Jan. 1. Herald Photo / File

As of Jan. 1, all bats used for Cal Ripken baseball must adhere to the new, stricter regulations for bats. For several years now, there has been an ongoing dialogue about the best way to keep the integrity of the game and also improve player safety.

The bats used in previous years caused an ongoing discussion about how responsive little league bats needed to be. In many situations, players needed to do very little at the plate for the ball to go flying into the field of play our out of the diamond altogether. Serious injuries were reported, and people took notice of how hard some balls were being put into play.

“Last year, I saw several home runs hit where the kid was on his front foot, and he just flicked his wrist. The ball went 50 feet over the fence. We were down at UCT. Our team Cornerstone was playing Holli Lumber from RUS. Our catcher hit a line drive past the third baseman that never got above his waist, and it one-hopped the fence. The third baseman flinched, and the ball was gone right by him,” said Greentown Youth Baseball League president Troy Beachy.

The new bats feature a bigger barrel than in the past. The diameter will be 2 5/8 inches and made of alloys that replicate the reaction of a wood bat. With new regulations come additional costs to players, and, for some, having to make such a large purchase hinders the child’s ability to play due to rising costs. Beachy said rumors have been circulating for the last several years, but no one knew when the new regulations would go into effect until they recently were announced.

The Greentown Youth Baseball League board voted to purchase two bats that qualify under the new regulations as legal bats to help offset costs to the players.

“Pretty much every bat from last year is now illegal. We had heard rumors of kids not being able to play, some teams not having any bats, and so we, as a league, did a lot of fundraising last year. We wanted to step up for the families and get a couple bats for each team that’s rookie through major to take the burden off the families and give them a year or two, if they want to buy a bat, to work on it,” said Beachy. “We talked about it the last couple board meetings, and I talked to a bat representative. By buying in bulk, we got a pretty nice deal. Once I talked to the representative, that really set the ball in motion and said we really can afford this.”

Beachy said the new bats are heavier, so for the rookie division, the league purchased a standard 2 5/8 inch bat for the older kids and a smaller, lighter 2 1/4 inch bat for the youngest players.

“We have 5 year olds all the way up to 8 year olds in our rookie program. The 5 year olds can’t swing a bat that an 8 year old can swing,” he said. “Each rookie team will have one big barrel and one small barrel. That way the older kids can use the big barrel, and the younger kids can use the small barrel.”

This move is part of the league’s effort to get as many kids out and playing ball as possible while keeping cost to a minimum. 

“The main thing is that our main goal is to get as many kids out as we can. We grew by 20 to 25 kids last year, and we want to keep doing that. So many didn’t play because they couldn’t afford it. We’ve been able to change that by starting the advertising incentives and fund raisers. You never know who the next big star will be. Some won’t ever be big stars, but they get to go out, play, learn, and spend time with their friends,” said Beachy.