Too Big a Bat

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment


Small boy with big basebal bat poses in front yard, circa 1920s old photo

Wide grip, c 1920s (click to enlarge

This boy’s “grip” is of course not really a grip, but players of the era did sometimes employ — as it would appear George Pinkney did, from the previous post’s photos — a wide grip for better bat control. Ty Cobb famously claimed he could hit more home runs if he so chose, and he appears to have abandoned his classic grip at times to generate more power. From a piece on baseball bats at sabr.org:

“In 1920 and 1927, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than every other team in the American League. On May 5, 1925, however, Ty Cobb put up power numbers that even the great Ruth couldn’t muster. Frustrated with the publicity Ruth’s slugging had garnered, Cobb commented to a reporter that hitting home runs was not as hard as it looked. He declared that he too would start trying to swing for the fences. With a new mindset and a hands-together grip, Cobb went 6-for-6 that day, with two singles, a double, and three home runs, giving him sixteen total bases—still an American League record (shared with several others) for a nine-inning game. The next day, Cobb hit two more home runs, totaling five in two days—still a major-league record. Satisfied he had proved his point, Cobb returned to his familiar grip and style: trying to get base hits instead of hit home runs.”

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