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The Metal Baseball Bat Debate

May 5, 2011, 9:51 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

The Metal Baseball Bat Debate
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The sound of a metal bat is distinct but that sound is quickly fading on baseball diamonds across the country with more leagues slapping restrictions on high-powered baseball bats. 

On the college level high-powered metal bats have been banned this season, and high school players will have to start using different bats next season because of the safety concerns.

Little League is also putting a moratorium on composite metal bats for the first time because of how fast and hard baseballs can bounce off the barrels.

To say all metal bats have been banned, however, isn't completely true. Teams can still use them but they will need to meet certain specifications so they perform more like a wood bat.

Lee Haeffner's 11-year-old son has a new bat this season. It has an aluminum barrel but a composite handle, and it's made to swing for the fences.

"His grandfather bought him a new bat this year, he's kind of excited to use it," Haeffner said.

Haeffner isn't too concerned about safety because he says at this level the players don't have as much power.

"I think a lot stronger individuals you're going to get more power and have more affects of it. I don't believe the youngsters should have to be worried too much about that," Haeffner said.

Nearly every youth baseball player has an aluminum or metal bat at this level.

"Bats are getting fancier so they can have more acceleration with the ball. Why be doing that at this young age if they're not going to be doing it in high school or pros," Mike Jahnke said.

Jahnke's 11-year-old son Payton uses a metal bat too, but he understands why there are some concerns. 

"You also need to look at the safety factor as well. We need to make sure kids are able to respond to balls that are hit very quickly. It's just a huge safety issue," Jahnke said.

And it's an issue that will continue to be batted around the diamond as more leagues make the switch.

In 2007 North Dakota high school teams switched exclusively to wooden bats because of the safety concerns. But, the North Dakota High School Activities Association just voted in March to allow the new metal bats that perform like wooden bats on the high school level. The switch was mainly made because of the new technology and the wooden bats breaking and causing budget concerns.

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