Hanna Bats

03-06-2014 / By: X Bats

The Hanna Manufacturing Company originated in Athens, Georgia in 1911. They were known for making handles for shovels, hand tools and farm implements. In 1926, Hanna started making toy bats for department stores and a short time later the company was making bats for sporting goods stores, colleges and the Major Leagues. They manufactured bats until going out of business in 1976.

Hanna originally used Southern ash for their baseball bats and hickory for their softball bats. Problems developed with uneven grain in the wood caused by the inconsistent spring seasons of the South. To solve this problem, Hanna decided to purchase acreage in Pennsylvania and New York and then proceeded to build two processing factories. When the dowels were received at the Athens factory, they had to be graded, sorted and stacked to dry. Once the bats were turned,sanded and completely finished, they were branded Hanna or Batrite, depending on the quality. The top grade of bat was called Batrite or WTA and the next grade was called Hanna TA. In 1933 Hanna patented the Batrite non-chipping treatment used on all bats. In 1935, the Flox "hold fast" grip was introduced and was especially advantageous to those ball players who perspired greatly. A cork grip was marketed in 1936 and, in 1941 the cupped bat came along. This type of bat removed the excess weight from the end of the bat and gave the bat a new center of balance as well as a smoother, more accurate swing.

Many college coaches had accepted each of the six above mentioned styles. Hanna manufactured other styles of bats that were exclusively shipped to department stores.

Hanna was responsible for one more important innovation. It was the fiberglass sleeve, which was incorporated into the bat handle. The purpose of this sleeve was to reduce the number of broken bats.

Another aspect of the Hanna Manufacturing Company involved the making of Batrite custom bats with a registered balance. When ordering a duplicate, it was necessary to send only the serial number to the factory. Some of the notable Major League players who visited the factory were Babe Ruth, Johnny Mize and Luke Appling. Some of the bat styles in the 1936 Hanna catalogs were Ruth, Hornsby, Gehrig, Foxx, Ott, Terry and Cronin. These bats sold for $2.50 each. The same bat in 1974-75 sold for $7.10 each.

Simmons' Long Bat and Wee Willie's Bat

"He'll never be a hitter" voiced the critics of Al Simmons, referring to his "foot in-the-bucket" stance. Little did the critics know how wrong they were. Al Simmons hit over .300 in eleven consecutive seasons and had 100 RBIs twelve times. He bit .390 in 1931 and averaged .329 in four World Series. He used a Hillerich and Bradsby bat that was the longest bat that Louisville ever made. It was 38 inches in length and weighed 46 ounces. Tommy Henrich of the New York Yankees said, "Al hated pitchers with a vengeance and showed it." Simmons played most of his career with the Philadelphia A's and Washington Senators from 1924 to 1944, and with four other teams.

Willie Keeler's motto was "Hit them where they ain't". He used the shortest bat ever made by Hillerich and Bradsby. It was 30 1/2 inches long. Willie was 5 feet  4 1/2 inches tall, weighing only 140 pounds. He played for the Orioles and four other teams and became one of baseballs' greatest place hitters as well as an outstanding bunter. The large barrel of his short bat gave him great bat control. In 1898, Willie hit a record 200 singles out of a total of 214 hits. This record still remains today


 

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