Art of the Baseball Bat: Landing a Skull Crushing Blow with Maximum Impact and Minimal Work
What You Should Consider Before Purchasing Your Bat
Art of the Baseball Bat | by TS Alan
A baseball bat plays an integral part of survival in AMC’s Walking Dead television series as does it in Syfy’s Z Nation. Walking Dead‘s Negan uses a wooden bat wrapped in barbed wire, while Addy from Z Nation utilizes a spiked metal bat — upgraded this season to include electro-shock. Effective as the melee weapon is for Negan and Addy, is it a weapon you should consider for your own post-zombie apocalypse survival? How effective will in be in your own hands? And what type is best?
You may think that you can just pick any type of baseball bat and immediately be proficient in skull crushing. But you would be wrong. Having played baseball in my youth, I can tell you there is a lot more to just grabbing any bat and hitting a ball with proficiency, and this will apply to whacking a skull. In the game of survival, glancing blows and strikes can cost you your life. So before you pick a bat and attempt to play whack-a-walker, read the article to decide if this is the right melee weapon for you.
Science of the Swing
If you think a baseball player’s swing has no relevance to you swinging at an enemy, think again. Looking. Thinking. Deciding, Acting. Contact. These batter actions are also crucial elements of your own swing. You look at your enemy. You think about about the speed and location of your oncoming enemy. You decide your swing pattern — high, low, inside, outside. You act by starting your swing. And finally, contact. Although your target is not a 3″ diameter object coming toward you at 90 mph, the science of the swing is equally as important in whack-a-walker as it is in baseball.
Wood vs. non-wood bats
There’s been a debate over the past 40 years in regard to wood vs. non-wood bats. It started in 1973 with the introduction of metal bats into the MLB. Lets face it, when the SHTF you’re not going to give a damn about what type of bat can hit a baseball the farthest. What you’re looking for is one that fits your needs and can give you the least amount of force needed to ascertain maximum damage.
The original form of Newton’s second law states that the net force acting upon an object is equal to the rate at which its momentum changes with time. If the mass of the object is constant, this law implies that the acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on the object, is in the direction of the net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass of the object. As a formula, this is expressed as:
where the arrows imply a vector quantity possessing both magnitude and direction.
In Zombie Killing Terms…
The mass of a zombie’s head (hopefully unchanging) + the speed at which the zombie is moving forward will factor into the range + speed of the swing needed to equal a net force to destroy the zombie’s skull. So what does that mean for you? Practice, practice, practice!
Practice, practice, practice
You may think smashing pumpkins is a great way to practice your swing. However, setting them on a fence post or having someone pitch them to you is not going to make you proficient at skull smashing in a real zombie uprising, unless your target is standing still. To simulate a zombie moving toward you, you could swing a suspended pumpkin from a rope, but that’s not realistic either. There is one sure way you can practicing your swing to build up upper body strength and sharpen swing skills at the same time, and that is to spend time practicing at local batting cages. If you can learn to consistently hit a 3″ rawhide covered ball that is coming toward you at 90 mph, then you will certainly be one step closer in developing enough skill and power to use it effectively as a defensive weapon.
So the question remains what type of baseball bat is required. Are heavy bats more powerful than light bats? The answer depends on how fast each bat can be swung. Light bats can be swung faster than heavy bats, but it doesn’t mean they’ll have the same bone crushing force.
Choosing your bat
The weight and construction of a bat also affects the bounce factor q, and it affects the time and position of the bat at which the swing speed is at maximum. The batter might find that he needs to change the way he swings the bat if the swing weight is altered. Batters tend to prefer bats that are lighter, rather than more powerful, since lighter bats are easier to swing and make it easier for the batter to connect with the ball. But you’re not playing baseball — you’re skull smashing — and you’ll need a bat that not only feels right to you but is also durable.
At the end of the article you can find the most pertinent information you will need to decide which bat best fits your zombie killing needs. However, there is still the wood, metal or composite factor. We have one recommendation to solve this problem: back to a batting cage. Batting cages can not only be a fun place to go and knock a few baseball’s around and sharpen your swing, but can be a place where you can test out different bats of size, type and construction in order for you to make an educated buying decision.
Just remember, just because it looks cool and effective on television doesn’t mean that a baseball bat will be the right choice of a melee weapon for you. There are many other weapons you can choice from, any of which may better serve your zombie killing needs or hostile human protection. Read our article Best Civilian Weapons for the Zombie Apocalypse for more information on melee weapons.
Whatever you decide just remember: Think smart, shop wisely, stay vigilant and be safe.
Zombie Education Alliance Information Guide for Choosing a Bat
- Makes it easier to determine the best weight, length and style of bat you should use
- More bat responsiveness
- Better pitch discipline (contact with the optimum strike zone on the barrel)
- Improved strength & form
- Increased barrel awareness
- Thin handled ash bats have a tendency to break upon impact with an object near the middle of the bat
- Tend to need replacing more frequently over aluminum bats
- Much lighter — more than five ounces (can be swung faster than a wooden bat)
- Barrels are bigger
- A wider sweet spot for more hitting area and can turn bat-breaking swings into kills
- Better balance point
- Absorbs the energy from the object when contact is made and sends it right back
- Aluminum doesn’t break
- Available in a variety of lengths and weights
- Can be more unsafe due to the speed at which they can be swung
- Become dented and distorted and can pit
They are more used for slow-pitch ball. They are lighter, however, durability is poor, can pop the end cap off or shatter after repeated use against a hard object, as in a skull. We do not recommend composite bats for use as a melee weapon.
Wooden Bats Compared
- Strongest all around
- Most dense
- Extra Power
- Not much “give”; more energy is transferred to crush a skull
- Strong, but lacks the “give” or “flex”
- Not a good choice for hitters who tend to hit off the end of the bat
- Closer to maple
- Provides some of the flex of “ash”
- Closer in strength to rock maple
- Great for first-time wood bat swingers
- Still get some of the “flex” of an ash wood bat
- Falls between maple and ash for wood density
- Must be used for a little bit to “firm up” and reach maximum hardness
- Weights tend to be very similar to maple bats
- If you’re prone to mishitting off the end of the barrel, no bat will flex like an ash bat
Northern White Ash
- Lightest of the three woods
- Less dense/strong
- Allows wood to “flex” more
- Provides greater bat speed for hitters who are used to fighting off zombies with bigger bats
- Flexes in one direction, but not so much when hit on the side of the engraving or the side opposite the engraving
- More likely to break in the handle when a you have contact down the handle, away from the barrel of the bat
Here’s an excerpt from Just Bats Buying Guides Buying Guides that supports our reasoning:
The Benefits of Swinging Ash Wood Bats
Ash is the lightest of the common wood types used in bats. With its lightweight feel, contact hitters often choose Ash bats for increased bat speed. Because of its grain structure, Ash is pound for pound the strongest type of wood you can choose. Ash has a wider grain structure than other woods, so it will have a “softer” feel and flexes during the swing. This flex is more forgiving and creates additional bat whip through the hitting zone.
Charts for Determining Baseball Bat Length
The general rule is, the taller the person, the longer the baseball bat. Use the following charts to assist with choosing the right length bat:
|5-7 years||24″ – 26″|
|8-9 years||26″ – 28″|
|10 years||28″ – 29″|
|11-12 years||30″ – 31″|
|13-14 years||31″ – 32″|
|15-16 years||32″ – 33″|
|under 60 lbs||26″||27″||28″||29″||29″|
|61 – 70 lbs||27″||27″||28″||29″||30″||30″|
|71 – 80 lbs||28″||28″||29″||30″||30″||31″|
|81 – 90 lbs||28″||29″||29″||30″||30″||31″||32″|
|91 – 100 lbs||29″||29″||30″||30″||31″||31″||32″|
|101 – 110 lbs||29″||29″||30″||30″||31″||31″||32″|
|111 – 120 lbs||29″||29″||30″||30″||31″||31″||32″|
|121 – 130 lbs||29″||30″||30″||30″||31″||32″||33″||33″|
|131 – 140 lbs||29″||30″||30″||30″||31″||32″||33″||33″|
|141 – 150 lbs||30″||30″||31″||31″||32″||33″||33″|
|151 – 160 lbs||30″||30″||31″||32″||32″||33″||33″||33″|
|161 – 170 lbs||31″||31″||32″||32″||33″||33″||34″|
|171 – 180 lbs||32″||33″||33″||34″||34″|
|over 180 lbs||33″||33″||34″||34″|
Remember, if you choose a bat as your main melee weapon you’re going to want it to be light enough for you to carry with minimal fatigue, the proper weight for you to swing for an extended period of time (depending on how many zombie skulls need crushing) without exhausting yourself, and durability. I particularly recommend a wood bat particularly one made from ash. Bats made from ash are lightweight and strong. Wood bats are also easier to add spikes to.