SkyBall Bat Modification

Written by Josh Smith (@HWLcommissioner)  |  Commissioner and Author/Editor  |  02.11.2013  
This is your commissioner speaking. So it's evident that we are not a "yellow bat" league. So the question arises: what bat(s) do we use? Last year we used the Sandlot Stick and had mild results. The amount of home runs was pretty meager by comparison to most leagues so I've decided to see what options there are to explore in hopes of bringing  a little excitement to the plate. As I mentioned in my notes from the Winter Meeting, the Louisville Slugger bat and Easton Pro Stix 1000 are the leading contenders to be the league bat for the 2013 season. But a dark horse possibility approaches, the SkyBall Bat. My dad and I have been working on extending the handle of the 29'' bat for the past two evenings and we've come up with some great results. The bat is now 36'' long and will undergo the same rigorous testing as the other aforementioned bats during the preseason. But enough about the choices that lay ahead. Let me show you step-by-step how we modified the SkyBall Bat so that it may be used in an adult recreational wiffleball league.

1) Use a hacksaw to cut through the handle of the bat. You can cut anywhere you choose on the handle. We chose to cut a few inches from the bottom. You do not want to cut at the knob of the bat at the very bottom. Finding a way to replicate that knob can be difficult if you're going to use PVC pipe. However, if you use a dowel rod that may not be a problem. Once you've cut the handle simply smooth out the edges. You'll need PVC pipe that is 3/4'' in diameter to perform the next step.

2) You want the PVC pipe to fit snug inside the bat to ensure it stays put while in use. You must decide how long you want the bat to be and that will determine what length of PVC pipe you will need. We wanted the bat to be about 36'' so we cut a 10'' piece of pipe to go inside the bat. The pipe will be just a tiny bit too wide to fit inside the bat. The only solution is to sand the surface of the pipe* (see note at bottom) so that you can insert it into the handle. You'll want to sand the surface of a few inches of the pipe on either end so that it will fit in the handle. But remember, the further you slide the pipe into the bat, the shorter the overall bat will be.

3) At first I thought that tape might be enough to finish the job but for the sake of efficiency we thought a more permanent solution was necessary. Screws would eventually work their way out of the bat so we decided that using nuts and bolts above and below where we inserted the PVC pipe to ensure it all stayed together. Initially, I was worried that this could be a problem to batters as the protruding bolt would be uncomfortable. I found a remedy for that but more on that towards the end of the process.

4) If you are meticulous about design you might notice that at this point there is a fairly noticeable difference in elevation of the handle. There are a variety of ways to try to smooth out this difference. We considered foam, bubble wrap, a lot of masking tape, and a host of other materials. But we settled on using a piece of a handle from a cheap plastic bat I had bought when I was a child. It almost completely leveled the difference between the pipe and the original handle.

5) The easiest way to smooth out the newly extended handle is to apply a layer of masking tape. You can use any type of tape but since all I had was white batting tape I was going to use at the end, I decided to use masking tape. To deal with the bolt that sticks out I put a piece of leather over the bolt and started taping the handle there. It softened the bolt enough although it does look a little weird. But when you consider that the nuts and bolts really guarantee a long lifetime on your bat, I think it's worth it. What you end up with is a very sturdy 36'' long bat that has the potential to hit balls a very long distance.

* To sand the surface of the PVC pipe I advise using an electric sander. It's much faster then using sandpaper but you run the risk of possibly sanding too much. Make sure you sand as evenly as possible as you rotate the pipe. But if you have about 10 hours of spare time on your hands feel free to use sandpaper. Maybe you can watch all the seasons of Breaking Bad while you grind away at the PVC pipe. "Respect the science, Jesse."