Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Non-wood Bat Ban Upheld in NYC

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 28th, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that New York City Council's ban of non-wood bats from high school level play was indeed constitutional. The ban had been challenged in a law suit by a coalition of metal bat manufacturers, youth baseball associations, and several parents on behalf of their high school playing kids. The coalition has organized itself into a group called "Don't Take My Bat Away." You can Google this issue, but a good press summary of the ruling may be found at The brief article is titled, "Judge: NYC Metal Bat Ban OK."

This is the first major step in what will very likely be a long process over the next five to ten years as amateur baseball moves back to wood bats. It is not clear whether the anti-bat ban coalition is having a lot of effect yet in the state legislatures of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, but at ballparks all over the country a lot of parents, coaches and players are leaning toward the idea that metal just isn't right.

The number of wood bat leagues and tournaments around North America has been increasing every year for the past decade. And the real decision makers in all of this will be the kids who play the game themselves. As an example, this past summer the World Wood Bat Association held its 15U national championship in East Cobb, Georgia. During this same time period, Junior American Legion regional tournaments were underway all over the country. In the end, kids have to make their own decisions. I know nothing about the level of play in Junior American Legion ball, but watching the Norcal Black Sox, East Cobb Astros, and Richmond Braves at the Wood Bat tournament, I felt like I was watching three of the best 15-year-old teams I had ever seen. Legion players use metal. The players at the World Wood Bat Association tournament were there because apparently they don't need to use metal.

The wood vs. metal debate is just heating up. Stay tuned for more. NYC's ban goes into effect on September 1st. It is already creating a ruckus for people who are afraid to hit with wood. I'm looking for quotes from NYC coaches looking forward to playing with lumber.

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