Spalding Bats

24 Dec

In 1883 “Northwestern Lumberman” magazine wrote about Albert Spalding’s bat manufacturing operation in Hastings, Michigan:

“Ash is the staple bat wood.  The ash bat is universally preferred and used by professional players, and given the best satisfaction.  In the matter of weight, strength and durability, bats of that wood seem best adapted to the wants of the batter.  A proportion of fancy, and necessarily higher-priced, bats are made of cherry.  Including the different woods and various sizes, there are twenty-two styles of bats made for the trade, ranging in price at retail from ten cents for a juvenile article up to $1.50 for an aesthetic cherry bat.”

A.G. Spalding

Albert Spalding

The article said Spalding’s Hastings plant would use roughly 350,000 feet of ash, 250,000 feet of basswood and 50,000 feet of cherry, resulting in an output of “25,000 dozen,” or 300,000 baseball bats.

“The best kind of lumber is required in making good bats, and the stocks of the raw material are kept two years in advance, in order to have them thoroughly dried.  Kiln drying is avoided, principally on account of the waste entailed by the method.”

The magazine said the “casual observer” might believe “there was considerable money in making bats,’ but:

“A man might find there was less profit than seemed to be the case.  The lumber must be good, and must be carried for considerable time, while it requires good machinery and careful workmanship on as nice a job as turning out a first-class bat.”

The bat business (and sporting goods in general) was very profitable for Spalding; he  left an estate of more than $2 million dollars when he died in 1915.

Spalding bat advertisement circa 1905

Spalding bat advertisement circa 1905

3 Responses to “Spalding Bats”


  1. “Somebody has got to Write a real Baseball History” | Baseball History Daily - April 18, 2014

    […] conclusions would likely have disappointed Albert Spalding and the members of the Mills Commission, which advanced the Doubleday […]

  2. “It may well be Doubted whether Beals should be Permitted to play Second Base again” | Baseball History Daily - July 23, 2014

    […] In addition to the incidents mentioned by The Enquirer, The Tribune said in 1877 after Albert Spalding had secured infielder Ezra Sutton for Chicago, “Sutton was worked upon by Boston and went there […]

  3. Abe Lincoln and Baseball | Baseball History Daily - April 14, 2015

    […] connections were more invention than fact.  There is no supporting evidence for A.G. Spalding’s story in his 1911 book “America’s National Game“ that Lincoln was informed of his […]

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