For the average ballplayer, your bat is your meal ticket. If your bat isn’t performing in top shape, you may find yourself riding the bench. It’s critical for all baseball players to keep their bat in top condition for their next plate appearance.
In the big leagues, the top bat manufacturers are happy to ship over another dozen new sticks for you anytime you need them. If you aren’t Mike Trout, there’s a certain level of preservation you need to practice when it comes to your bats.
Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know about wood bat care, including how to clean, store, repair, and even restore your wood bats to keep them in the game longer.
Most hitters like to keep their bat as clean as possible, so they can see where they’re making contact after taking an at-bat. There are several different ways to clean a wood bat, and the most effective method is going to come down to the type of bat you use, the wood it was made from, and the cleaning method you prefer. Some of the most popular options include:
Windex multi-surface vinegar is one of the most popular options. Players like to use the vinegar Windex as it’s effective, and it tends to play well with bats from every manufacturer regardless of the finish.
Rubbing alcohol is a popular option since it’s powerful, and it should be able to remove ball marks and other imperfections that other cleaners can’t.
You’ll want to use caution with rubbing alcohol since it will strip the clear coat off your bat. Over time, cleaning with alcohol could do more harm than good.
Dishwasher detergent and water is another popular option to remove scuffs, ball marks, and other imperfections. Some players swear by it, but others don’t find it as effective as Windex or rubbing alcohol.
One final cleaning product that has been a “secret weapon” of sorts for a lot of players is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Who knows how this handy tool works, we just know that it’s effective. For especially stubborn marks and scuffs, a Magic Eraser should make quick work of them. Many players keep one in their bag specifically for removing stubborn spots that other cleaners can’t.
If you’re using Windex or rubbing alcohol, apply the cleaner directly to a soft rag and clean the bat in the direction of the grain. Once you’re done, take another cloth that’s clean and dry and wipe off any excess from your bat.
For dishwashing liquid, you’ll want to dilute the soap with three parts of water for every one part soap. Then, apply the cleaner to a clean cloth and work the cleaner in the direction of the grain.
Magic Eraser is a bit different, and it’s one of our favorite wood bat care methods. The product comes in a small rectangular block. To use it, wet the block in warm water and wring out the excess. Then, use it just like a pencil eraser, and work over the marks on the bat until they disappear.
Storing a wood bat should be a no-brainer, but it’s something that a lot of ballplayers still get wrong. There isn’t much you need to do to keep your bats properly stored, but if you don’t follow these tips, your bat won’t perform as well as it should, and it will be prone to breakage.
Always store your bats in a cool, dark place where they aren’t subject to extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity. These environmental changes can cause your bat to swell or shrink, causing cracks and weak points within the bat. Often, a broken-bat is caused by improper storage.
Keep your bats stored with the handle up whenever possible, and place them somewhere they won’t get kicked or knocked over.
If your bat gets wet, dry it off immediately. At the beginning and end of each season, wipe your bat down with linseed oil to keep the wood conditioned and in great shape.
Dents and dings come with the territory of a wood bat, and no ballplayer will ever be able to avoid them. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take if you need to remove dents from a wood bat.
Bats with dings and dents can compromise your performance at the plate, and it will be harder to square up pitches if you aren’t working with a perfectly round bat.
You can work out dings and dents from a wood bat by using a piece of bone, a rolling pin, or another bat. Use your bone or whatever else you have and work the area around the ding until you’re able to remove it from the bat.
Boning a bat is also a useful way to make an ash bat more durable, as it has a way of condensing and strengthening the fibers of the bat. With maple bats that are already extremely hard, boning isn’t necessary, unless you’re trying to remove dings or dents from your bat.
A helpful way to ensure your bat wears evenly and isn’t subject to tons of dents and dings is to rotate the bat ¼ turn after each time you make contact at the plate.
Restoring an Old Bat
Usually, if a bat needs restoration, it’s probably passed its useful lifespan on the field. Old bats can warp, crack, and otherwise show signs of age that will compromise them the first time you smoke a double into the gap.
If you’re restoring a bat to keep as a collectible, roll up your sleeves and get ready to put some sweat equity in, as this is one of the most involved forms of wood bat care. You’ll want to begin by stripping the years of grime and oxidation from the bat.
Goo Gone or a similar product and a soft cloth usually work well for this. If the cloth isn’t taking the grime off, switch to some fine-gauge steel wool.
Once you’ve restored the bat’s natural color, grab a fine felt-tipped black pen, and restore any maker marks or other branding. Carefully trace whatever is left of these marks. Once the ink dries, rough them up a little bit with some steel wool to dull the shine and make them look authentic.
From there, you can condition the bat with some linseed oil, and if you like, spray a very light coat of poly on top to preserve the maker’s marks and the overall condition of your bat.