Ash baseball bats threatened by emerald ash borer
The Louisville Slugger is a baseball bat that has been manufactured in Louisville, KY, since 1884. Though also available in aluminum and maple, the traditional Louisville Slugger is made of white ash -- and not just any white ash.
The process of making a Louisville Slugger begins with selecting the timber itself. Although maple is rapidly gaining in popularity among today’s pros, the majority of bats are made from white ash. However, not just any white ash can become a Louisville Slugger. In fact, the only ash up to Louisville Slugger standards grows along a 200-mile stretch of land on the New York-Pennsylvania border. The soil, rain, sun – everything is just right there. That’s where the best bats in the world, Louisville Slugger bats, come from.
Source: Slugger Magazine
As you might imagine, the Louisville Slugger Company is concerned about the emerald ash borer, an Asian insect that has been wreaking havoc among North America ash trees. The emerald ash borer has spread through parts of Canada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, llinois, Michigan, and Indiana. As of yet, the insect has not reached the area where the ash timber for Louisville Sluggers is produced.
The Louisville Slugger company is bracing itself for the possibility that the emerald ash borer will reach and destroy the ash forests that produce Slugger lumber. Company labs are conducting research on other woods for bats, especially beech.
In a press release about the Emerald Ash, the Louisville Slugger company urges the public to avoid transporting firewood. When firewood is moved out of the area where it was cut, the emerald ash borer may ride along, expanding its range far more rapidly than the insect could do without human assistance.
Only time can tell what will happen to America's ash trees. We certainly hope for a solution to the emerald ash borer problem, but you might want to buy an ash Louisville Slugger bat (link opens a PDF) while you still can.