When the New York City Council ruled that all Public School Athletic League baseball teams use only wooden bats, it made the decision for all the right reasons. Council members cited safety issues, and Catholic Schools in the New York City area soon followed suit.
What the ruling didn't anticipate were the serious budgetary limitations that were soon to befall their school districts and others across the country. While wood bats are safer, they also have a propensity to break, raising the need for more bats than are required in traditional leagues that allow aluminum or composite bats. More wood bats require more funding, something that New York City schools just don't have.
The result has been a dearth of supply relative to demand, with players often left distraught if and when their favorite bat breaks on a hit, in large part because they or their parents often pay for those bats themselves. Quite frankly, the PSAL needed more bats, and it needed them badly.
According to the New York Daily News, as if on cue, a Yankee reached out to the PSAL looking for a way to get involved with scholastic baseball in the New York area. PSAL official Tyrone Parker told Yankees starting center fielder Curtis Granderson that they were in dire need of more bats, both for baseball and softball, which still uses metal bats.
That's when Granderson offered up a chunk of his own salary, without hesitation. Calling in additional help from his own bat sponsor, Louisville Slugger, the athletic outfielder plunked down a donation in the region of $50,000 to purchase at least 300 bats to stock the 139 varsity baseball teams and 115 varsity softball teams that compete in the PSAL's various divisions, for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.
"Once the PSAL switched from aluminum bats to wood bats, all of a sudden you're going to see a hike in the price," Granderson told the Daily News. "With Louisville Slugger, there was no hesitation. Let me get the equipment because I can help out a lot of kids who need it."
With his donation, Granderson accomplished just that, giving a handful of players who have grown accustomed to the stigma of competing with inferior equipment a chance to feel more confident in the bats in their hands.
"Bats are extremely expensive," South Bronx softball coach Denise Hernandez told the Daily News. "I think we've been at a disadvantage because most of our kids don't have the opportunity to purchase a bat.
"A good bat is going to make a difference. The kids will feel better, and they'll be able to compete with the other girls in the other leagues who can afford [to buy new bats]. I think it's a tremendous gift."