The Art and Science of Baseball

If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty into wood bats. In our unbiased opinion, they just might be the single most important human invention of all time. Hyperbole aside, we’re incredibly (and understandably) proud of our bats, and we take great pains to ensure that we’re making the best bat every time. Since we love what we do, we wanted to share with you a look into how our bats (and the baseballs they crush) are made and how they work.

The Art: How it's made

At Phoenix, we like to think of ourselves as artists. We start with a billet of wood and turn it into a powerful, unique and beautiful tool made just for you. We bring out the best features that every billet has to offer and shape them with the care and precision of master artisans. So how do we do it?

The bat

It all starts with the wood, and Phoenix Bats selects only the finest of the finest of rock maple, yellow birch and northern white ash wood. Our bats are completely made-to-order. Each one takes a ride on our cutting-edge, hyper-precise lathe—it’s the best one in the business, and it’s all ours. The bat comes off the lathe cut and sanded to the exact specifications of the order, and then it’s time for the finishing process. The finishing process isn’t just cosmetic, though; the latest finishes enhance the strength and bring out the unique beauty in every bat.

The baseball

We don’t make the balls, but we know what goes in ‘em. All (regulation) baseballs are the same: At the core is a sphere of cork encased in two layers of rubber. The cork/rubber core is then tightly wound up in three distinct layers of wool yarn and a fourth layer of poly/cotton yarn. The outer cover of a baseball is leather; specifically, it is Number One Grade, alum-tanned and full-grained cowhide, usually from Midwest Holstein cattle. The leather cover is then stitched around the ball with 108 inches of waxed red thread.

The Science: How it all works

We’ve talked before about how each wood type has its own properties that lend themselves differently to blasting baseballs, but we’ll try to generalize here for the sake of time. Physics covers most of the equation, and bat and ball composition covers the rest.

The physics is fairly straightforward (and borrowed from Penn State University physicist Daniel A. Russell): a baseball weighs just over five ounces and can be thrown in excess of 90 mph (and often faster). A 31-ounce bat being swung to meet the ball will be moving even faster at around 100–110 mph. That is quite a bit of momentum coming from both parties. Upon contact—which lasts less than one millisecond—the ball and all of its innards experience an average of 4,000 pounds of force with a peak of more than twice that.

Under this kind of force, the baseball compresses and deforms around the shape of the bat; the bat, too, flexes and compresses a little before everything—the bat and the ball—snaps back to form and the bat transfers all of its swing energy to the ball. The result if everything goes as planned: the baseball is launched off the bat towards center field—and It. Is. Outa here! The crowd goes wild!

Now that you know how we go about making our bats, and how our bats go about hammering home runs, come check out our selection of maple, birch and ash baseball and softball bats. Our experts are here to chat and answer any questions you might have, but we can’t help you with your physics homework.

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