Aluminum Bat History

Have you ever wondered, how and why aluminum baseball bats ever came to be?


The first ever patent for an aluminum bat came by a man named William Shroyer in 1924, patent # 1,499,128. In his design there was a spot at the end of the barrel where you could add more weight if desired. It is said that this idea of aluminum bats came to him due to the splintering of wood bats. That was a long time ago, and aluminum bats did not come to life until the 1970’s. After the major popularity and boost of metal products during WWII, we began to see new different alloy configurations popping up and being used in many new products. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when Anthony Merola began making prototypes of a aluminum bat. Once he had a final product he started a small aluminum bat manufacturing business and his new softball bat was approved by some softball organizations in 1969. It wasn’t long until the larger aluminum companies such as Alcoa and Kaiser, started producing their own metal softball and baseball bats. In the early 1970’s big wood bat manufactures also wanted a piece of this new phenomenon. Worth Bats were the first large bat manufacturer to start producing aluminum bats. Louisville, and Easton also followed with aluminum bats of there own, some being out sourced, manufactured by the bigger aluminum plants Alcoa, Kaiser and Reynolds, . In 1978 Louisville Slugger purchased Alcoa and began manufacturing their own aluminum bats.

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Aluminum bats were first introduced and approved by Little League Baseball, Inc in 1971. In 1974, the NCAA followed with approving aluminum bats due to their popularity and opportunity to try to save some money. The reasons for the switch to aluminum are the same reasons why you see many teams switching back to wood bats today, safety issues and cost. Aluminum bats would be much more expensive per unit but cheaper for the whole season. As an example, which is really dependent and relative to any particular purchaser, and their playing conditions; that individual may only have to buy 1 aluminum bat, where they may have to buy 2 or more wood bats. The safety issues were similar to today, bats breaking on occasion and flying towards the pitcher or any other player. 40 years later we find ourselves wanting to change from aluminum to back to wood bats due to safety issues with aluminum causing  injury from excessive bat-ball speed and aluminum bats reaching sky high prices. In the early 70’s there was a big cut back for sports that were not producing revenue for there schools, college on down. The institutional purchasers had decided that the best way to go would be aluminum to help keep costs down.

By 1975 metal bats, as it was the new thing, surpassed the total amount of sales compared to wood bats, it was the end of the wood bat era in amateur sports. Each year aluminum bats have been getting more advanced due to the new alloy’s and research. When each new bat model comes out, its said to have a bigger sweet spot, better balance and much better performance. Anyone who has swung an aluminum bat knows that they preform at a totally different level than wood bats. I remember being able to hit a good amount of home runs with aluminum bats, after the switch to wood, it may be every blue moon before I hit a home run. The aluminum game has brought offense to a much highly level than wood bats, and there are massive amounts of people on either side of the fence on the issue of wood vs. aluminum in baseball. With this high powered offense also come injury due to the trampoline affect of aluminum bats, making the baseball come off the bat much faster than wood bats. Baseballs are being hit so fast back into play and hitting players, injury and even death has taken place. In the mid 1990’s BESR (Baseball Exit Speed Ratio) was introduced into requirements on the manufacturer for all levels of play in relation to aluminum bats. The baseball exit speed after being hit by the bat is not supposed to be more than 97 MPH to be legal. This test was off a 70MPH fastball.  BESR was the first attempt to help make aluminum bats act more like wood bats. I remember around 2000, the weight drop of aluminum bats were changed from a drop of -5oz to -3oz, it was a big deal at the time a took a while to adjust the weight difference. This helped a little bit, but the next big change was enforced in 2012.

Old BESR logo (no longer used) – New BBCOR logo

Starting in the 2012 baseball season, BBCOR (which stands for Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) bat are in effect. BBCOR bats not only measures the ball exit speed (like BESR), it measures the “bounciness” factor. The old BESR bats did not measure the compression of the aluminum bats, it only measured the ball exit speed of the swung bat. Old aluminum bats had a lot of flex in the aluminum walls of the bat, allowing less compression to the baseball. Making the baseball soak up more energy sent out towards the pitcher. New BBCOR bats help disperse the energy when the bat and ball meet. Making them more safe in game play. I would say you hear more of a thud now then a ting like in the past.

Even with BBCOR in place today, aluminum bats will out preform wood bats. Even if a wood bat and a aluminum bat have the same length and weight. This is mainly due to the distribution of mass throughout the bat. Since a aluminum bat is hallow in the inside and center of mass point is closer to the handle. Meaning you will be able to swing an aluminum bat faster than a solid wood bat. Wood bats center of mass is more towards the barrel, due it being one solid piece of wood. When it is in your hand it will feel more end/barrel heavy. Making it harder for you to swing. At the end of it all, the harder you are able to swing at an object the more power and energy will be placed on the baseball.

Aluminum bats are not going to break like a wood bat does but they do dent easy and usually have to be replaced every season. Most come with a year 1 time replacement warranty. I remember having to replace my aluminum bat about every two months due to denting. Aluminum bats are supposed to help save the bottom line of organizations, my personal experience I would say it doesn’t. It is a rare occasion if you come across a Aluminum bat breaking, the barrels will dent and crack, ever so often it will actually break. I have witnessed a few metal bat break, those can also be dangerous, but like I said it rarely happens. Many fans of the game believe that the breaking of wood bats is part of the game, and using aluminum bats are like having the bumpers up when you are bowling. For instance, when you hit a baseball on the handle with an aluminum bat you can get a hit. When you use a wood bat, you will most likely break the bat and hit the ball back to the pitcher. Aluminum also mask the true talents of prospects. There have been many spot light players throughout the years that have not been able to make the transition to wood bats.

Will Aluminum bats ever vanish for good? Probably not. The reason for this is because if we change to all wood bats at every level, the quality of wood bats wood go down and we would be back to having many breaks at all levels, the reason for the switch to Aluminum in the first place. If everyone could swing a pro quality wood bat, there would be a lot less breaks. People’s pocket books will decide this matter, along with whether or not this effects the history and integrity of the great pastime.

Want to see what they do with bats when they have lived their life? Go to 2:18 in this video and watch some shredding!

Articles to credit.,,,

– Matt Ingle





  1. What they charge for bats today is criminal. $200-300 for a bat? When I was young, wood and aluminum bats cost $15-20 dollars! These companies now must be making 1,000% profit on these bats. How can families afford to BUY any of these bats? It’s insane.

  2. I found this article while searching for U.S. patents for aluminum softball bats. I own four of the original Orbit Launchers manufactured in 1969 and in 1970 by the small Orbit Launcher Bat Company owned by Anthony Merola I’d guess. One of the bats I recently acquired is in mint condition and was never used. A fella in Cincinnatti picked it up at a Goodwill Store back in September. He found an article I published in July of this year (2014) about original metal bats and where they’ve progressed to today.

    I’m interested in finding out if you have actual information or patent numbers and pictures of Merola’s patent. I can read the lettering on the Model 504 bat made in 1970 and never used. However, I know for a fact that the green one and the burgundy colored ones were purchased in 1969 by the fella who managed our men’s fastpitch softball team here 25 miles north of Madison, WI.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Here is a link to the article I wrote recently about bat performance issues

    Bob Tomlinson – The Fastpitch Chronicle website
    Member Amateur Softball Hall of Fame – Wisconsin
    Member Inernational Softball Congress Hall of Fame
    Member Wisconsin High School Fastpitch Hall of Fame
    Member Madison Mallards Baseball Hall of Fame

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