The supply of ash in the United States is under threat, and with it, the iconic Louisville Slugger. The culprit: an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer.
When I left the United States in 1984, I left behind those sports that are part of American culture. One of them was baseball. I was never a big fan, but I did live a bus ride away from Shea Stadium, and would occasionally go see a Mets game. I still appreciate the Zen-like nature of baseball, though I don’t watch games any more, because of the annoying adds behind home plate that distract me from seeing the players.
In any case, I’ve heard about the threat to ash trees here in the UK, and I find it interesting that this insect has changed the way a key sporting tool is made.
For more than 100 years, Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, has sourced its white ash from a relatively small area of northern Pennsylvania and New York. About seven years ago, the bat maker noted that the beetle had come within 100 miles of its harvest site.
Bat makers have moved on to different woods, which aren’t as sturdy as ash, but it’s suprpising that an insect could have such an effect on a sport.