As the first Home Run King, Babe Ruth has the most famous bat in the history of professional baseball. In an era that wasn’t bogged down by internet or television coverage, Ruth became a national superstar with his larger than life presence in pretty much every category. As such, it should come as no surprise that his bats are still the biggest to ever be used by a professional baseball player.
Babe Ruth’s bat
Ruth was synonymous with the Louisville Slugger throughout his career. It’s a tradition that was passed down to several of the biggest names in professional baseball including, according to Bat Digest, Derek Jeter. Casual observers of baseball might think that all bats are created equal, but players know otherwise and always know what bats are best for them. The bats that worked for them at the beginning of their careers might not work near the end.
A look at Ruth’s bats shows that he not only liked heavier bats but that the bats got lighter as he got older. He preferred 34- to 36-inch bats throughout his career, and near the beginning, his bats were heavier than those which have ever been used in professional baseball. The heavier bats, which weighed anywhere from 38 to 54 ounces may also explain why Ruth became the first player with the ability to hit the ball as far as he did.
The science behind baseball bats
Ruth might not have been the first player to use heavier bats, but when somebody as large as him was able to swing like he did, it was a true display of the science of batting. According to a study by Daniel A. Russell of Pennsylvania State University, a larger bat’s ability to hit further depends on the speed with which it is swung.
Ruth, as a larger player in the league, was able to swing a large bat with similar speed to his skinnier counterparts. The result was that a Ruth swing, even one that was as fast as those of his teammates and rivals, was going to send the ball flying in ways that the league had never seen before. However, Ruth was a very specific type of player.
A lighter baseball player, even today, would have a hard time benefiting from the heavy bats that Ruth swung because the stress of having to swing a bat that was a pound heavier would affect their speed and accuracy. This explains why Ruth was so far ahead of his contemporaries, even if his size wasn’t necessarily connected to superior physical fitness.
None of this takes away from Ruth’s ability. Every athlete benefits and pays the price for their physical build. Ruth was never going to throw off pitchers with fast base-running, but if he hit the ball out of the park none of that was going to matter. Aside from the performance, however, these legendary bats remain some of the most heavily-sought-after pieces of sports memorabilia on the market 85 years after he last appeared in a game.
Buying a piece of baseball history
The weight of the bats isn’t the only number that’s higher than anybody else’s. To this day, Ruth memorabilia is easily the most valuable memorabilia that a potential sports buyer can own. Even in an era where memorabilia isn’t as popular as it once was, Ruth continues breaking records as people pay millions to own artifacts from his career.
In 2001, one of Ruth’s bats sold for $86,250. Fast-forward to 2014, and the bat he hit his first Home Run with as a Yankee sold for a cool $1,265,000. Ruth’s legacy has lasted long after his death, and it will likely last even longer beyond. As such, it makes sense that even his bat weight holds a certain amount of lore that can’t be touched. Nearly nine decades after his last swing, the baseball world is still impressed with this pudgy man who would become one the first superstars in American sports.