The tools of the game are, in large part, something that modern baseball players take for granted. The modern fan must realize, however, that at the dawning of professional baseball in the late-1800’s the gear that was available leaves a lot to be desired. Take, for instance, the baseball glove. Until St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Bill Doak, revolutionized the baseball glove by inventing the webbing between the thumb and finger. Up until the 1920’s, baseball gloves were nothing more than a simple padded leather glove. Doak would ultimately sell his patent to Rawlings, and the rest, as they say, is history. While Doak’s invention has become the standard for all gloves that have come since his 1922 patent, Emile Kinst and his odd banana bat creation have been relegated to the dust bin of history.
The banana bat
Emile Kinst was the best kind of baseball fan. He apparently thought the game was too “easy” for players in the 1890’s. From Kinst’s vision for a tougher game, came the banana bat, quite possibly the oddest creation in baseball history. But this isn’t just me speculating here, one can read Kinst’s own words about his invention here.
What Kinst was trying to achieve, was a tougher game. Or, using his line of thinking, a more intriguing game to watch. The focus behind the creation of his new bat was to increase the degree of difficulty for the fielder. The entire purpose of his bat design was to alter the flight of the ball. In Kinst’s own words from his patent application he said, “The object of my invention is to provide a ball-bat which shall produce a rotary or spinning motion of the ball in its flight ‘to a higher degree than is possible with any present known form of ball-bat, and thus to make it more difficult to catch the ball, or, if caught, to hold it…”
Kinst and his banana bat have largely been forgotten about by most baseball fans. But the desire to re-think the design of baseball bats has not subsided. This drive to reshape the tools of the game has existed as long as the game itself has. Take for instance the work that the Axe Bat Co. has been doing over the last seven years. They’ve went from the prototype phase, to putting their design in the hands of the players at the top level of baseball in less than a decade. With Victus Sports already contracted to make the axe-handled design for MLB, Tucci Lumber Bat Co. has followed suit.
This is part one in a forthcoming series about the tools of the game.
Next week: Baseball gloves
(feature photo courtesy of: manmadediy.com)
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