“Return to aluminum bat, what do you think?”
A public hearing will be held on whether to reuse aluminum bats in high school baseball. The Korea Baseball Softball Association (KBSA) announced on Sunday that it will hold a public hearing on the theme of “Conversion of Non-Wooded Bats for Under 18s” at Daejeon Health University on April 28. Non-Wooded Bats refer to aluminum bats.
Players, field leaders, parents, authorized companies and officials will attend the public hearing. Although KBSA has led the field leader questionnaire and public hearings for authorized companies, it is the first large-scale public hearing in which players and parents, who are the main players of the bat, attend.
On the same day, presenters’ opinions on the transition to aluminum bats will be revealed. In addition, discussions will be held on the pros and cons of switching to aluminum bats. Those who have expertise in wood and aluminum bats will also participate as presenters.
In the baseball world, pros and cons are at odds with each other regarding the transition of high school baseball to aluminum bats. The pros and cons say that it helps improve pitcher and fielder skills, while the other side refutes that it goes against international competitiveness. KBSA’s survey of field leaders and collecting opinions on certified companies also resulted in results that it is difficult to judge which side’s public opinion is dominant.
It was exactly 20 years ago that aluminum bats disappeared from high school baseball. In 2004, it was suddenly changed to a wooden bat. The main reason was to adapt to international competitions. At that time, expectations that the KBO League would also increase adaptability also played a role.
Since then, however, there have been steadily raising calls for the revival of aluminum bats. The call for revival has always appeared whenever Korean baseball showed poor performance in international competitions. Examples include when it suffered a cold defeat by Japan 2-14 in the second World Baseball Classic qualifying round in 2009 and when it lost to Japan 4-13 in the second Group B match in the first round of the WBC last year.
The big guns that dominated Korean baseball, such as Jang Jong-hoon, Yang Jun-hyuk, and Lee Seung-yeop, are representative figures in the baseball community who are in favor of reviving aluminum bats. They are expressing opinions such as “I can’t beat wooden bats in high school,” “It’s hard to swing as much as I want if I use a wooden bat even though I try to swing when I’m young,” “The big guns have disappeared and only fine skills have increased,” and “Pitchers are evaluated higher than their skills due to the use of wooden bats.”
On the other hand, many are opposing the revival of aluminum bats, led by pitcher-turned leaders such as Chung Min-tae and Lim Ho-kyun. They argue that using wooden bats is appropriate in high school baseball, based on logic such as “Aluminum bats are meant to kill pitchers,” “If aluminum bats are introduced from the current amateur baseball pitching ability, the overuse of (pitchers) will become more severe,” and “It will not help pitchers grow.”
What is the trend in the world related to this? Wooden bats are used at the World Baseball Organization (WBSC) Under-18 Baseball World Cup, and aluminum bats are used at the Under-15 Baseball World Cup and high school baseball in the U.S. and Japan. Aluminum bats in the U.S. and Japan are known to have repulsive forces similar to those of wooden bats, because they lower the repulsion factor.
Many argue that the logic itself that strengthening international performance and improving performance depend on which bat to use is unreasonable. The gist of such an argument is that the bat is making an excuse for the unresolved issue of Korean baseball.
Lim Ho-kyun, a senior baseball player (professor at the Institute for Lifelong Education at Eulji University), said in an interview with a media last year, “We need to take a comprehensive look at the aluminum bat conversion issue. Amateur field leaders, professional leaders, the Korea Baseball Softball Association and the KBO need to make efforts to think about the overall development from various angles.”
A KBSA official (operating team) also told CBS No Cut News that public hearings are held due to the material of the bat, but it is a sensitive issue in various ways. “We will also look at the training of youth and high school players from various angles,” he said.
Notably, KBSA dismissed some suggestions that the association has already decided to revive the aluminum bat, saying, “The direction (of the association) has not been decided. Public hearings are not a formal procedure.”
“We are currently in the process of gathering various opinions. It is not a matter to be decided immediately, such as a revision of the regulations is also necessary. Judgment should be made through additional research. The current reality is that the two opinions are being tightly divided,” he said.
Those who wish to participate in the public hearing can apply through the association’s website by the 14th of next month. Opinions can submit their opinions through the association’s e-mail by the 22nd of the same month.