# How far could Superman hit a baseball?

Bestowed with super-human strength, I decided to use my powers not to fight crime and injustice, but rather to hit monstrous homers… at batting practice. I suppose there’s some deep meaning hidden in there. Or I may have been remembering the young Clark Kent kicking a football beyond the horizon in the Superman movie.

Anyway, it left me wondering: if Superman was real, and he was real in the real world, how far could he hit a baseball? Here are the parameters:

1. The only thing super is Superman
2. He’s using a standard Major League-approved wooden bat
3. He’s hitting a standard Major League-approved baseball
4. He’s facing a regular Major League-approved pitcher
5. No significant wind

This is thus a problem of ballistics and material strength. If Superman hits the ball too hard, he’ll break it, though common sense would tell me the bat is the weak element.

So, what would be a ballpark estimate for the Super-homer?

The longest verified non-super home run is about 575 feet (Mickey Mantle’s “longest home run” was 643 feet, but that was measured from where the ball stopped rolling, rather than where it hit).

Considering that non-super hitters routinely break bats, I think you’re right in identifying that as the limiting factor. Since kinetic energy varies with the square of the velocity, hitting a ball twice as far would require four times as much energy (more, actually, as wind resistance would increase with velocity), which I’d think would bring you pretty easily into bat-shattering territory.

This page mentions a hit having a momentary force of 5000 pounds, while this site says that ash wood (the main source of baseball bats) has a shear strength of 1,500-2,000 psi. Someone with a better head for structural engineering will have to explain what, if anything, those numbers mean.

My WAG is that if Superman has a bat in perfect condition and hits a ball at just the right spot, maybe 800 feet. If he swings harder than that he’s going to start impaling fans with supersonic splinters.

Well, maybe he’s playing college ball with an aluminum bat, which are significantly more robust. Given an unlimited budget and not having to submit to collegiate rules on bat limits, I’m sure he could hit a ball that reached escape velocity of 11.2 km/s. I assume this is escape velocity outside of the atmosphere, so Superman would have to hit it a hell of a lot harder.than 25,000 mph. I suppose we would have to redesign the ball also, so it could take the force of a bat moving at well over 25,000mph.

I’m no expert on baseball rules. If the bat breaks, does that invalidate the hit? If not, then he might be willing to sacrifice the bat for a hit that makes the ball go miles.

No.

But it’s possible that Superman might break the bat simply by accelerating it prior to contact with the ball. Indeed, that would be one of the limitations here.

Are you equally sure the ball could withstand the force necessary to impart that velocity?

The hit is still valid if the bat breaks. It happens relatively often, though usually because the batter hit the ball where the bat is thinner.

The bat breaking, I think, limits how fast you can swing it. Or does it?

That’s precisely what I’m interested about, which is why I specified real-world bats and balls.

In baseball, if the pitch hits the batters hands, would it still be a legal hit? Maybe Supes could aim so that his fists did the actual contact.

Miles, if Superman is allowed to go fly in front of the ball and cut the wind for it, otherwise I would say 1000-2000ft based on the limits of the ball and bat.

This sounds like a job for the MythBusters! It has a couple of advantages for them - it would be relatively cheap, quick to test, and visually compelling. You should submit it to them and let them figure it out with some empirical testing.

I’m not sure that breaking the bat would be advantageous. In order to break it, you’ve got to put a long of energy into the bat; it would be absorbing energy that would otherwise be used to propel the ball.

Are you saying breaking it purely do to the inertia of the bat? My gut tells me that the bat and/or ball would break long before that point.

The ball likely would become a big soggy mass of yarn if hit hard enough, a la that scene in The Natural.

He would just bunt and make it to first before the catcher could get a hand on it. All about the RBIs.

Why swing the bat at all? Bunt. A super-bunt, with Supe’s hand supporting the barrel of the bat would be capable of quite a bit of distance. At that point it becomes the structural weakness of the ball that is the limiting factor.

With his super-speed and super-reflexes, Superman could probably execute a super-bunt and eliminate the bat as the weak link.

This would allow him to essentially push the ball with the thickest part of the bat, backed by his hand. No human being would be strong enough to hit a home run this way, but presumably Superman could. (beaten to the post)

I doubt however that the ball could sustain supersonic speeds very long, if at all. There’s just too much drag. I really doubt he could knock it into orbit, or impart escape velocity long enough for the ball to get out of the atmosphere.

Googling tells me that the terminal velocity of a baseball is about 35 m/s - much slower than a typical fastball pitch. So once the baseball leaves the bat, it is going to very quickly lose speed because it’s no longer being pushed. There is an analysis of how air resistance affects the ideal parabolic trajectory here, however that analysis is specifically invalid at very high initial speeds.

Nonetheless, you can expect something like the effect of trying to throw a ping-pong ball as hard as possible. It will quickly lose speed. There is probably a maximum distance to which it can be possibly thrown/hit which is dependent on an initial velocity which can be imparted without having to destroy the ball.

If there are no runners on, he’d make it home before the catcher got his hand on it - an infield inside the park homerun!

Or use the bat like a pool cue, and hit it end on. Or just give it a normal hit and assist it with super-breath (hey, there’s no rule against it).

What are the rules if the ball does come apart? Are there rules?

Regards,
Shodan

FWIW, he kicks a football what looks to be a couple of miles before “discovering he’s Superman” in the first movie; one would assume that kicking a ball that hard would just deflate it.

So I gather the physical laws which govern whether sporting goods disintegrate under force would be suspended for Superman’s at-bats.

There is a rule against it. Using super breath would constitute offensive interference

Curses - foiled again!

Regards,
Shodan