New youth baseball season comes with changes to bats

MILLERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - As indoor practices begin for many youth baseball leagues, players are adapting to new equipment requirements.

For the 2018 season, USA Baseball has imposed new standards for youth bats, which require metal bats to perform more like wooden bats. According to the organization’s website, the change was made to “benefit the long-term integrity of youth baseball.”

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, the bat manufacturers started really making the metal bats better. The ball started really jumping off the bat,” said Dave Bellis, President of Millersburg Little League in Dauphin County. “The (new) idea was to make a bat that is still metal or composite so that the kids can still handle the weight, but the way the ball comes off the bat is more like a wooden bat.”

Several major youth leagues across the country have adopted the change, including Little League and Cal Ripken Baseball. The rule requires that all bats bear the USA Baseball logo, indicating that they were manufactured in accordance with legal specifications. While USA Baseball claims the change was based on integrity, Bellis believes safety will improve in youth leagues as a result of the new bats.

“I think it is a good thing,” he said. “We have been fortunate in this area. I don’t think that we’ve had any issues or injuries or anything, but I know across the country, there were issues where kids were getting hurt.”

USA Baseball enacted the new bat standards effective Jan. 1, 2018, but the change has been in the works for years. Time was allotted so bat manufacturers and other experts could research and adapt technology.

Bellis learned of the change about a year ago. He said Millersburg and other Little League organizations leaned on local businesses and community groups to raise funds and purchase one or two new bats per team so they would be available to all players. While the rule change means most metal bats manufactured prior to this year are now deemed illegal for use in the youth leagues, wooden bats used in previous seasons are still permitted.

The bat change does not apply to youth softball. For complete details on the USA Baseball bat policy, visit their website.

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