Special thanks to WSU Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections
1944 – Eri B. Parker (left), former WSC
engineering professor, watches
Friel try out a prototype aluminum bat.
It was 1944 – wartime at Washington State College – and the image in that long-forgotten photograph tells a tale of foresight and innovation a quarter century before its time.
It wasn’t just any bat that clean-cut, 13-year-old Wallis (Wally) Friel was holding that day in front of Bohler Gym. It was a prototype of a hollow aluminum bat, engineered at the old WSC foundry, – and something most people had never heard of at the time.
Washington State has long been a major player in the aluminum industry. With bauxite-rich soils and close proximity to cheap and abundant hydroelectric power, the Pacific Northwest became a national leader in aluminum production during WWII.
|In 1924,William Shroyer was issued a patent for the first metal baseball bat. Despite this early patent, aluminum bats were not seen in the game of baseball until Worth introduced them in 1970.|