Craftsmanship is a lost art, especially in the world of wood bats. Technology, the drive for precision, and a push for profit has rendered hand-turning obsolete.
Like a pendulum, however, the bat production process has swung from old and antiquated to automated and robotic. The low-point of this swing toward automation was undoubtedly marked by the outsourcing of production to China by one of the biggest wood bat makers in the game today. While they quickly realized their error and brought production back on-shore, it aptly underscores the shortcomings of the volume-based, margin-focused approach to bat making.
Simply put, wood is an organic material. It isn’t a Model T where the use of assembly-line production can squeeze out more efficiencies and more profit margin. Indeed, volume-based production is the enemy of high quality wood bats. That’s why at Meridian we marry the craftsmanship of old to the precision machining capabilities of today.
We utilize state of the art, CNC machining in the production of our bats – this ensures tight tolerances, spot-checked over time that simply can’t be reliably produced via hand-turning. But what we don’t do is utilize hopper-load, run-based production methods. Our process incorporates a heavy dose of the human element because every piece of wood is different and not only deserves unique attention, but demands it.
Making a bat is more, so much more, than throwing a dowel on a lathe and shaping something that looks like a baseball bat. It starts with the best raw materials – splits. Whether you’re using ash, maple, birch or beech, when you split your log as opposed to sawing it, you will get consistently straighter grain. It wastes more wood, and is more manually intensive, but the end product is better. Unfortunately for us, the bat maker, it costs a dramatic amount more than sawn lumber.
But for us, it’s a price we are willing to pay to ensure that the foundation of our product offering is on solid ground. That being said, and while the two largest bat makers in the game today use sawn lumber (yes, they compromise quality for profit margin), many bat makers use splits. Moreover, we’ll let you in on a little secret, most bat makers are procuring their wood from the same mills. And this is where the human element in force at Meridian sets us apart.
Like we said, making a bat is more than just throwing a piece of wood on a machine and calling it good. Now that the sourcing the best raw materials box is checked, we can comfortably move on to the process. Truth be told, much of our process is a trade secret – but here is a topical summary. Moisture content is important, we monitor it – dry bats are brittle bats, and we don’t want to send out bats to our customers dried to a 3% MC (it’s also why we recommend you keep your bats out of the trunk of your car). Then there are the MLB regulations, 20 some odd pages, which we follow to a T. Straight grain for the 18” of the bat that constitute the handle: check. A readable ink-dot that does not exhibit slope of grain in excess of three degrees: check. Density restrictions: check. Cupping restrictions: check. Grain inspected for knots, pinholes, and other inclusions: check.
And beyond the MLB requirements, we incorporate a number of additional production techniques to ensure a better bat – from the aforementioned caliper spot-checks to ensure tight tolerances, to thicker walls in the cup, to finishes that let you see for yourself the quality of the wood grain. We also implement a series of additional quality control checks to ensure that when a Meridian is in your hands, you know there is no better product out there on the market today.
Interested in what these additional checks are? Shoot us an email, it never hurts to know your wood and love your lumber. Hell, it’s even okay if you talk to your Meridian, we’re all superstitious…after all, we’re baseball players.