Skull bashing for sport
January 24, 2008 7:13 AM   Subscribe

What percentage of baseball bats sold are bought by people intending to use them primarily as a weapon or threatening object, vs. how many sold primarily for playing baseball?

A survey with such numbers would be ideal, if anyone can point me to such a thing. Googling hasn't turned up anything for me.

And a US vs. worldwide number would be even better.

* Yes this is for a pub quiz I'm making.
posted by Space Coyote to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not trying to snark, but how in the world would this be ascertained?
posted by xmutex at 7:19 AM on January 24, 2008

Agree with xmutex, I can't imagine how this would be calculated with any accuracy.

I do think the number sold for pure weapons purposes would be quite low. A crowbar would be a cheaper and more dangerous option.
posted by justkevin at 7:28 AM on January 24, 2008

Sports Business Research Network has total purchases (147 million in 2006), by age group, by education of household head, by gender, by geographic region, by household income, by outlet type, brand and price point. No separation by intent of use.
posted by cashman at 7:29 AM on January 24, 2008

You'll have to change your question a little. The only way to gather information on people's intentions when buying bats would be to poll people outside of sports stores all across the country; and even if you did that, a person buying the bat to beat someone most likely wouldn't admit that to the guy with the clipboard outside the store. So you will not find any reliable statistics about people's intentions when buying.

It's a little more conceivable that you could figure out how many baseball bats are used for beating people, as that might show up in police logs. But "threatening" also sounds far-fetched -- are cases of threatening with a baseball bat noted down anywhere? Isn't "threat" hard to define? What if I'm just standing around outside your apartment with the bat?

So it's vaguely possible, I'd imagine, that you could tally the number of baseball bats used to beat people and compare that to the number of baseball bats sold. (You would have to figure out if one guy isn't responsible for 3 separate bat-beatings.) However, that doesn't necessarily reflect on the intentions of anyone. It could be that when baseball players get angry, they naturally reach for their bat, whereas a disgruntled bowler threatens adversaries with his bowling ball and the ballerina with her slipper, etc.
posted by creasy boy at 7:30 AM on January 24, 2008

0 vs. 100 (rounded to the nearest integer)

Are you serious, Clark?
posted by fusinski at 7:30 AM on January 24, 2008

This is not a snark answer:

Make it up.

Nobody will be able to say you're wrong, and you may find yourself suddenly being "the expert" on this particular question. Just pick a number that seems reasonable.
posted by aramaic at 7:34 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Baseball bats, on average, last a long time (longer than most people's interest in playing baseball), there's no shortage of used and secondhand ones, and new ones are more expensive than one might think. And anecdotal evidence would suggest that the baseball bat is mostly a weapon of convenience, or last resort. Based on all that, I would guess that a very small number of the baseball bats sold at retail are sold to people who intend to use them as weapons, rather than as sports equipment.
posted by box at 7:34 AM on January 24, 2008

you might give an accurate answer to mr. clipboard if he asked:
"did you buy this bat for self-defense or to play baseball?"

as for the pub quiz question, you could make it a meta-question. ask a bunch of people "what % of bat owners planned to use their bats for self-defense?" then ask the pub about the common perception of bat owners :-P
posted by maulik at 7:37 AM on January 24, 2008

0 vs. 100 (rounded to the nearest integer)

I'm not sure that any real statistics could be found on this, but in many countries the vast majority of baseball bats are sold for weapons. Think about it, why do stores sell baseball bats in the UK where virtually nobody plays baseball?
posted by burnmp3s at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2008

Hmm. I think we can take an unscientific shot at it if we make some assumptions

1) Most baseball bats bought in the US are sold as baseball bats, not weapons
2) The equipment you need to buy to play baseball is the same wherever you are
3) If you're not buying it to play baseball, you're buying it as a weapon

You need to find the ratio of sales of baseball gloves to baseball bats in the US, and in the UK. If bats are selling in the UK but gloves aren't, then those bats are going to other purposes.
posted by Leon at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

From my personal experience, a decent new baseball bat is pretty expensive to buy just for home security. I wouldn't be surprised if it's more, people have baseball bats to play baseball, but also use them for home security.

I considered getting one for my apartment, but then I bought a FUBAR, which was cheaper and can drive/pull nails.
posted by drezdn at 7:55 AM on January 24, 2008

Think about it, why do stores sell baseball bats in the UK where virtually nobody plays baseball?

I presume for the same reason you can buy cricket and croquet equipment in the United States. Jumping Jesus on a pogostick... if you wanted to buy a weapon why on earth would you settle on a baseball bat?
posted by fusinski at 7:58 AM on January 24, 2008

The easiest way to figure that out is to find out how many baseballs people own on average, divided into the number of baseballs ever sold. That will give you how many baseball owners. You can subtract that from the number of baseball bat owners, whatever number is left is the number of people that 1) Own a baseball bat and 2) don't own a ball. Those people are most likely to use their bats for head-crackin' rather than ball-hittin. (unless that is part of head-crackin')
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 AM on January 24, 2008

Baseball bats break, too (unless they're aluminum). So you'd have to factor in the average longevity of a bat, and the average amount of use a bat will get (in addition to all the above responses). In other words, this is ridiculously complex.
posted by knave at 8:35 AM on January 24, 2008

I can't imagine anyone in the US buys a bat specifically for protection when you have such a wide variety of more effective home protection options.
posted by fshgrl at 8:49 AM on January 24, 2008

Once we figure this out, could we work on how many people buy guns to play baseball?

seriously, you can't answer this...

Another question you would have to ask is, how many bats bought to play baseball end up being used as weapons?

And then there's the how many are bought as weapons and end up being used to hit grounders to the kids?

I've got a nice aluminum bat in the garage I bought for the kids 30 years ago, I will NEVER play baseball with it, but once in a while I pick it up, smack it against my hand, and sneer at the nearest non-working piece of lawn equipment just to watch that lawn mower slink to the back of the garage and hide!
posted by HuronBob at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2008

The bat-to-glove and bat-to-ball ratios are worthless. Lots of people have a glove to play on a team and have no use for a ball or bat. Others have one glove and a host of bats and balls. The relationships between the variables are too complex to be of any help.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2008

Well this doesn't seem so silly to me. I heard that in the UK a while back (like close to ten years ago, when I was still living there) there was so much concern about people buying baseball bats to use as weapons that the police wanted there to be limitations on their sale. Of course this is probably untrue, but that was the word 'on the street' as they say.
posted by ob at 9:10 AM on January 24, 2008

A baseball bat makes a pretty crappy weapon compared to say a butcher or even fillet knife. I'd say less than 1% and leave it at that. I'd also say it is a poor quiz question.
posted by JJ86 at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2008

On a tangent: When I was living in Copenhagen, I was told by an another American friend living there that he had to get a special permit for purchasing baseball bats when he set up a baseball match for friends. I never verified it, but it seemed possibel. I never saw anybody playing baseball in Denmark, but I've seen a few Danish movies where people got worked over with baseball bats.
posted by ga$money at 10:00 AM on January 24, 2008

Hmm, I've never played baseball in my life yet I have one in my room. Just a gift from my father (along with mace and a rock (?!?)) that he said was "just in case." Maybe that's another facet of this question... how many females have bats but no balls or gloves.
posted by CAnneDC at 10:19 AM on January 24, 2008

This is a hard question to answer, but I think we can apply some math and come up with a fairly exact answer. Simply research the values of the variables below:

A = # of baseball bat assaults reported in U.S. in a given year
B = Percentage of baseball bat assaults that go unreported due to embarrassment or fear of retribution
C = Number of serial offenders who use baseball bats for assault
D = Average number of repeat assaults by said offenders
E = Number of people who keep at least one baseball bat for self-defense
F = Average number of baseball bats in said self-defender's arsenal (some people may keep a nice light aluminum bat around for ease of wieldability, a heavier one for larger attackers, and a wooden one to light on fire for extra damage)
G = Number of years over which said defender normally replaces his arsenal
T = Total number of baseball bats sold in given year

And then it's as easy as applying the following simple equation:

X = ( (((1 + B) * A) - (C * (D-1)) ) + ( (E*F) / G) ) / T

Picky people may be able to enhance the above equation for added accuracy, but this should get you close enough for your purposes.
posted by greenmagnet at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

fusinski said: "Jumping Jesus on a pogostick... if you wanted to buy a weapon why on earth would you settle on a baseball bat?"

After thinking for only ten seconds or so, several reasons spring to mind: they're not illegal, their sale is not restricted or registered in any way, they are (perhaps) less likely to leave marks that are traceable to a specific purchase (I don't think most bats have substantially unique impact signatures or serial numbers), they are unlikely to accidentally cause harm to yourself or others (vs. knives or guns), and they're relatively simple for a non-expert to brandish/use, you can cause pain or minor-to-moderate injury to someone without risking killing them (so long as you avoid hitting your adversary on the head), etc., etc.

JJ86 said: "A baseball bat makes a pretty crappy weapon compared to say a butcher or even fillet knife."

I think that may be part of the point -- one may want a weapon to employ mostly in a threatening (i.e. non-injuring) manner rather than a wounding/killing manner. Not everyone who wants to have some means of self-defense around is comfortable with the idea of brandishing a weapon that could easily kill... I know that I would find it much easier to brandish a such a weapon in self-defense than one which could easily inflict more harm than intended. The idea being to prevent an attack on oneself, rather than to instigate a fight with someone else.
posted by onshi at 4:42 PM on January 24, 2008

On a related note... If, during a routine traffic stop, a police officer asks you why you have a baseball bat in your car, don't tell him you have it there for self-defense. Tell him you like to hit a few balls around with friends every once in awhile. Take it from me - I spent a night in jail almost 20 years ago for answering this question incorrectly.
posted by syzygy at 10:28 AM on January 25, 2008

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