We have written many articles about the baseball lumber that Bryce Harper chooses to swing, and Spring Training brings out the salesmen and reps from the different equipment manufacturers. One day it might be EvoShield for protective gear, another day Kaenon for sunglasses (look whose picture is on their website), another for MimzBandz wristbands, Under Armour for cleats and batting gloves, and today it was one the many bat companies descending on Viera. Below (pictured) is the Rawlings Bat rep pulling bats out of his van for Bryce to see, touch, and swing.
Bryce was out in the early morning because preparation is important to Bryce and his lumber is an integral part of his success. The best lumber must be chosen with great precision and Bryce is meticulous about his process in choosing the final product. Bryce examines the wood and only picks the best from what is shipped to him to be used in a game. We’ve done stories before of Bryce Harper and his history with Marucci Bats, and this year his official promo picture is photographed with a bling’d out flame tempered Marucci!
Bryce has been known to phone the bat companies and talk about what he needs and ask for a particular player model like he did with David Chandler at Chandler Bats a few years ago when Bryce wanted a YC52 model that Chandler was making for an Oakland A’s player named Yoenis Cespedes. Late in the 2015 season, Bryce wanted to try out a Chandler modified Carlos Correa CC13C that the Astros rookie was swinging. The bat pictured below is a CU7 model which is a modified Chase Utley design that is Bryce’s favorite bat model from knob to handle to the all important barrel. A bat that actually makes it to game use is critical to many players, and we will see on April 4th what Bryce is swinging.
Last year Bryce hit the largest percentage of his Home Runs with the hand crafted Chandler Bats made outside of Pennsylvania Dutch country in Montgomery County Pennsylvania by craftsmen. We did a few stories on trips to the Chandler bat factory last year, and even got to take BP in their cages and swing BH34 models, as well as Bryce’s favorite CU7.
Well chronicled is the care some players take with their lumber as they carry them in humidors like Ichiro. Jim Caple of ESPN once wrote, “God forbid if anyone accidentally spit tobacco juice on Ichiro’s bat. It would be like leaving the Shroud of Turin in the rain.” Michael Morse was mentored by Ichiro in Seattle, and as a gift from Ichiro was given his own humidor for his bats. Today’s bat humidors can be found in armoured casing like this one by SKB:
Bernard Malamud who created one of the greatest baseball books adapted to the movie “The Natural” was years ahead of Ichiro, but clearly understood the connection between player and his bat when he created the character Roy Hobbs — “The Natural” — who fictionally hand-carved his “Wonderboy” bat out of a tree split by lightning. h/t to jfmii and rayvil for both pointing out that the movie The Natural was adapted with a script that was not verbatim from the Malamud book.
Tony Gwynn referred to one of his particularly effective bats as “nine grains of pain” and Lou Brock once said, “Your bat is your life.”
There was a time in the turn of the century that bats were repaired with nails putting back together splintered wood, and a player would use the bat an entire season or longer. Today a player using inferior wood could easily go through 120 bats a season.
Here’s EvoShield last year getting the Nats ready and then below from this week again doing their thing with Jayson Werth!
— EvoShield (@EvoShield) March 4, 2015
— TALK NATS (@GoingDeepNats) March 3, 2016