Japan High School Baseball Bat Standards Get Update; Outdated Bats Reused as Vases or Sent Overseas to Promote Sport

Courtesy of the Okinawa chapter of the Japan High School Baseball Federation.
Flower vases made from old metal baseball bats

New standard bats that suppress ball speed began being fully introduced in high school baseball games this spring, making many conventional metal bats no longer standard. As a result, moves being made to make effective use of the outdated bats. Some people are reusing them to make different items such as vases and pencil holders, while others are sending them overseas to promote the sport.

Forty t 50 old bats were made into 20- to 30-centimeter-tall flower vases and other items and sold on March 23 and 30 to spectators at a baseball stadium in Naha, a venue for the Okinawa Prefecture high school spring baseball tournament. All the items were priced at ¥1,000.

“We aim to use the proceeds to buy the new standard bats and distribute them to high schools in the prefecture,” said Atsushi Yara, the chairman of the Okinawa chapter of the Japan High School Baseball Federation.

The federation collected more than 10,000 old bats in fiscal 2022 and expects more to collect this summer. It said that the collected bats will not be used as bats again.

Around November 2022, after learning that more than 1,000 bats were possibly being discarded in Okinawa Prefecture alone, Yara started thinking of ways to reuse them. Last autumn, he asked four high schools in the prefecture, including agricultural and industrial schools, to cut and polish those bats as well as grow plants so they could be sold together. The students worked hard to meet his request.

The students prepared 90 items and sold most of them on March 23 and 30. They plan to make more additional old bats are collected.

The new standard metal bats cost around ¥35,000 each, about ¥10,000 more expensive than the old ones. As a result, some schools find it difficult to purchase a sufficient number of bats. “I want to use the profits from the sale to buy new bats,” Yara said.

Donating equipment overseas

The federation’s Fukuoka chapter sent about 250 of the old bats to Sri Lanka in February, following a proposal by Sujeewa Wijenayake, a high school baseball umpire from Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, where cricket is popular, there is limited access to baseball equipment. Sujeewa said he started playing baseball at his high school and found it difficult to purchase necessary gear. He came to Japan to study and later immigrated here. He has been sending baseball bats donated by elementary schools and others to his home country for about 15 years. This time, he asked the chapter to collect the bats.

“The equipment is in good condition so Sri Lankan children can still use it,” he said.

Passing it down

Among high schools competing in the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament, Wakayama Prefecture’s Tanabe High School’s baseball team donated about 20 old bats to elementary school students in a special event last year.

“We gave them the bats in the hope that they’ll keep playing baseball in the future,” the manager of the team said.

Anan Hikari High School in Tokushima Prefecture and other schools gave their old bats to junior high school baseball teams.

Courtesy of Sujeewa Wijenayake
Sujeewa Wijenayake, left, and Tetsuro Yoshioka, the director of the Fukuoka chapter of the Japan High School Baseball Federation, hold old bats that were collected by the chapter.