Breaking A Baseball Bat

When I was a kid we were always told to hold the bat so the label would face a certain way (“up”, IIRC) at impact or the bat could break. Or maybe the rule was just “don’t hit it on the label.”

Any truth to that? Maybe it has changed with the migration from hickory-> ash -> maple?

I am finding lots of goggle hits on broken bats in the major leagues, but no mention of orientation of the label.

I don’t remember ever breaking one, myself.

Wood will split more easily along the surfaces corresponding to the tree rings, so it makes sense to orient the grain of the wood a certain way when you’re hitting the ball, and the bat manufacturers put the label on accordingly. I don’t know for sure which way you’d want the grain when you’re hitting the ball, but I would trust that they do.

According to the softball goddess sitting across the room from me, the label should face away from the side of the bat that hits the ball.

After going hitless after being given the advice in the OP. :smiley:

Unless softball bats are different from baseball bats this is incorrect. The label should be up or down when the bat is level in the swing. They always tell you face the label up since that is easier to verify when you swing than if it’s facing down.

If holding the label away from the ball were correct in softball holding it facing the pitcher would work just as well. You want the grain edge on when hitting the ball as the wood is stronger that way.

The opposite side of the label will break as easily as the label. The grain is the same. You want to make contact on one of the other sides. Hold a bat in your hands and stop your swing over the plate. The label should be facing up. When you take a cut at the ball, the label needs to be facing up when it crosses the plate (or down facing the plate, but it’s easier to know you’re holding it correctly if you have the label up.)

[Never mind. OldGuy has it covered.]

Ted and I beg to differ with your label up hypothesis:
Like Ted Williams said, “the hardest part of the bat is the back of the branded label”, so he would make sure during contact, he could see it, NOT literally, but he said the label should be opposite contact with the ball. (Quote from BASEBALLTIPS.COM)

Any cites for the above assertions? So far it sounds very superstitious. Any bat manufacture’s site talk about the care they put in affixing/burning the label? Physics of the process?

A search for “hardest part of the bat” and “back of the branded label” on www.baseballtips.com show no hits. But I do find there:

Take a close look and you will see how the grain runs and why this is true. So the simple rule of prevention here is…Bat with LABEL UP OR LABEL DOWN.

at http://baseballtips.com/print/wood1.html
which is exactly what was said before by me and Obeseus

I respect Ted Williams a great deal as a baseball player, but if he said what is quoted here, he disagrees with many other players and every coach I’ve heard. I’m not implying you’re misquoting him, I’m thinking that the quoter you cite is misremembering what Williams said. If you “make sure during contact [you] can see [the label]” it will be facing up.

I’ll have to dig out my copy of the Science of Hitting. Until then, I’m not going to expect a web site got something right. The grain on the back of the branded label is the same as the side with the branded label, so whether it is harder, which I doubt, how would it not break easily?

I do have a few major league game-used bats (not from anyone particularly great at hitting) and the contact marks on the bat are on the sides I previously stated they should be.

I’m not so sure labels are always positioned the same in relation to the grain. Safe not to assume so. It’s hard to explain/picture, but I’ll try…the ball should contact the bat on the side of the grain, not the flat side of it. The “side” of the grain would look like this: lllll

The flat side would be 90 degrees on either side of it.

This is preferable for not only less breakage, but also for the distance the ball is hit. There is less flex in the wood when it is hit on the grain “sides.”

As noted above, I position my hands so that “sides” of the grain are facing the pitcher when the bat is extended over the plate.

If your interested in wood bats, here’s a great sight: http://viperbats.com/index.asp

I have no expertise other than playing softball for 35 years, but I always have the label up. It’s worked okay so far.

All the bats I’ve ever seen had the label so that, if you were facing it, you’d be hitting the ball on a side with the grain. See this example. And this. Note how the grain “curves” beneath the label. If you looked edge on, you’d see parallel lines of grain.

Ted Williams notwithstanding, every source I’ve ever seen tells you to bat with the label facing you (or facing down).

Serious question.

In those 35 years, how many bats have you broken? How many of those at-bats were with wooden bats?

I think I broke one bat, maybe two, but that was wayyy back when we played pick-up games in 6th or 7th grade. Our equipment wasn’t exactly league-standard, if you know what I mean.

Here’s a bit more of an attempt at scietific evidence. I leave it for someone more awake than I to read it and summerize it for us all.

What do they mean by “We can trace any gamer that is cracked as long as it is in one piece. There is a six bat minimum for this service”?

Go to the source, I always say. Here is what Louisville Slugger has to say: Always hit with the label up or down. They put the label on the flat of the grain, which is the weakest part of the wood.

Pseudocode, it sounds like they mean they will make a copy of a favorite bat that cracked, but you have to order at least six replacements.

So the real answer is to hit with the grain edge, rather than the flat of the grain, regardless where the label is. I think OldGuy touched on this. Louisville Slugger always puts the label on the flat of the grain, thus their label should be up or down. But if another bat maker put their label on the edge of the grain, the bat should be held with the label in or out. Preferably out if the label were actually in the contact area.