800 Home Run Club® Honorary Members' Tools of the Trade Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sluggers chose their bats carefully, personalized them for maximum effectiveness

Following is a look at the actual bats chosen by many of baseball's greatest all-time home run hitters, honorary members of the 800 Home Run Club® to pursue their dreams, along with details about the manufacturer/model/specs of each.

Honorary 800 HRC members:

Josh Gibson's preferred bat was massive 40-inch, 40 ounce model (source "Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness" By Mark Ribowsky, published by University of Illinois Press, 2004)
 
Fun Facts About Josh Gibson: While his Cooperstown plaque says Gibson hit "almost 800" homers during his 17-year career against Negro League and independent baseball opponents., long-ball pundits place his career total as high as 962.  Unfortunately, due to sporadic statistical accounting in the Negro Leagues, these numbers are difficult to verify.  But no matter who you ask, everyone agrees on one thing...Josh Gibson really knew how to "bash" a baseball. 

Widely regarded as the greatest Negro League hitter ever, Gibson, is a hero among his contemporaries including Barry Bonds, who referred to "Josh Gibson's 800 home runs" in his post-game press conference after hitting his 756th MLB home run.

Gibson, nicknamed the "Black Babe Ruth," blasted his way into history as a member of the Negro League's Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays, despite the fact that he possessed a lithe 6'1, 215 lbs. frame, which was far from imposing. He was so powerful that he reportedly hammered out 84 homers in one season and during a notable trip to Yankee Stadium thumped a baseball into the far reaches of the upper deck.

Sadaharu Oh preferred bats were hollowed out at the end for better balance and bat speed.  Late in his career, he used a custom-made Adirondack 302.
(Source:  St. Louis Cardinals' great Lou Brock.)  According to reports, after the 1968 World Series against the Tigers, Brock visited Japan with the St. Louis Cardinals. He watched in awe as Sadaharu Oh hit tremendous home runs and asked him for one of his bats. He discovered it was different -- cupped at the end where the wood had been hollowed out for better balance.  Brock began using the new bat the following season and was still using it when he got his 3,000th career hit on Aug. 13, 1979. He was the first to use the cupped bat in the big leagues.

Fun Facts About Sadaharu Oh: Researchers discovered the cupped bat originated in America and was copied by the Japanese.  In 1910, the Savannah Bat Co. introduced the Tea Cup bat, identical to today's cupped model. It attracted little attention at the time. But the Japanese discovered it and used it to design their version, which was later discovered and re-nationalized into the modern major leagues by Lou Brock. 



Editor's Note: The bat preferences of MLB greats who hit between 500-599 career home runs can be viewed by clicking here; 500 Home Run Club® Members' Tools of the Trade and the bat preferences of MLB's most elite sluggers, who hit more than 600 career home runs, can be viewed by clicking here; 600 Home Run Club® Members' Tools of the Trade. The bat preferences of MLB greats who hit more than 700 career home runs can be viewed by clicking here; 700 Home Run Club® Members' Tools of the Trade





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