With playoff season now in full swing, America's favorite pastime is on the minds of fans nationwide. Baseball enthusiasts crowd into bleachers and couches alike to see if their favored team will make it to the coveted World Series.
But truth be told, a number of factors beyond a player's strength and skill are at play, including certain qualities of the baseball and bat being used. Recent standards from ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International help to measure some of those qualities.
Did you know that when a bat hits a ball full swing, the ball can actually compress by nearly a third? ASTM F1888-2009, Test Method for Compression-Displacement of Baseballs and Softballs, allows testers to determine the relationship between compression (the force applied to a ball) and displacement (the change in diameter of a ball due to force) in a baseball or softball. The more displacement a ball displays (i.e., the softer it is), the more energy will be lost upon impact with the bat, and the slower the ball will travel. These measurements are of concern not only to players interested in maximizing their game, but also to organizations interested in ensuring player safety.
Reaching up to 100 miles per hour, a pitched ball holds a lot of energy that you can see in the spin and speed of the ball. With solid wood bats like those used in Major League Baseball, energy is lost as the ball compresses upon impact. Hollow-core aluminum or composite bats, on the other hand, "give" a little; the ball distorts less and retains its pitched energy. To determine a bat's dynamic performance, ASTM F2219-10, Standard Test Methods for Measuring High-Speed Bat Performance, can be used to measure the bat-ball coefficient of restitution, also known as BBCOR. This refers to the "trampoline effect" of the ball and bat, or the transfer in energy at collision.
For those fans lucky enough to attend the game in person, a standard from the ANSI-accredited International Code Council (ICC) helps to keep spectators comfortable and safe in their seats. ICC 300-2007, Standard for Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating and Grandstands, establishes requirements to safeguard public health, safety, and general welfare through the structural strength of bleachers, grandstands, and folding and telescopic seats. The standard addresses means of egress and safety to life and property relative to the construction, repair, operation, and maintenance of these structures.
Of course, baseball season never really ends once the World Series is over, as fans of all ages continue to play year-round. To help protect our little leaguers, ASTM F910-04, Standard Specification for Face Guards for Youth Baseball, covers protective face guards for young batters and base runners with the intention of reducing hazards of injury to the face, eyes, and mouth.