TRAVERSE CITY — Wuerfel Park is not known as a place to go to see a ton of home runs.
That may change.
After a four-year hiatus, maple and birch bats will be back in the Frontier League, bringing the hope of more power and more long balls at Wuerfel and throughout the league.
Beach Bums All-Star first baseman Chase Burch said the change will be a good one for power hitters. He was one of four Bums players with 15 or more homers last season, slamming 17.
"There will be much more power for everyone this year," Burch said. "I couldn't imagine what our numbers would have looked like last year with maple or even birch.
"I don't know any hitter that would prefer ash over maple or birch."
Burch said he used maple bats during batting practice because they broke less frequently.
"I can't afford to use ash," he joked.
Langbehn said All-Star catcher Marcus Nidiffer was the same way, only using maple bats in batting practice and then switching to ash for game action.
"They used the same bat almost all year," Langbehn said.
The league banned maple bats starting with the 2009 season.
"The league has reviewed its policy on the different woods that are available on the market," Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee said. "Our rules committee recommended that any wood can be used so long as it is from a Major League approved supplier."
MLB regulations that went in effect in 2010 prohibit bats made from ultra-light maple in the minor leagues, and in late 2011, low-density maple bats were banned in the Majors.
"I think that's a positive rule change," Langbehn said. "Every team tries to sign affiliated players, and they get them under contract and they show up and they've got 12 maple bats in their bag and you can't use them. It becomes an issue. The umpires are supposed to be the ones to enforce it, and quite honestly, a lot of them don't know what a maple bat is and they don't want to get caught in the middle of that."
With maple bats gone from the Frontier League, players like Burch turned to ash.
"Ash breaks much easier," he said. "It's a lower quality wood. You can't really use them for batting practice or they will splinter. Birch and maple break about the same. The argument was that the ash wouldn't 'explode' when they break. But we proved that to be false last year."
"It was frustrating to us and the rest of the league from a financial standpoint," Langbehn said. "Bats aren't cheap."
"Maple/birch cost about 25 percent more than ash, so it's hard to tell if you come out ahead financially anyway," said Jason Wuerfel, vice president and director of baseball operations for the Beach Bums. "From a performance standpoint, I think it's more psychological than anything. If a player thinks the type of wood is helping him hit, then it is."
Langbehn said he thought the ash bats didn't turn out to be any safer, either.
"Initially, it was a safety issue in the league's eyes," Langbehn said. "They thought the maple bats broke easier and were more likely to explode. I don't necessarily believe that. I've seen more ash bats explode the last couple years and go all over the field. It's just the quality of wood that's being used these days. It's not that good. It's a fact."
TRAVERSE CITY — Wuerfel Park is not known as a place to go to see a ton of home runs.
Bums ace hurler headed closer to home
A desire to play close to home led to a trade announced Tuesday that sent Traverse City ace pitcher Scott Dunn to the Washington Wild Things for All-Star infielder Jovan Rosa and a first round draft pick.Continued ...
Beach Bums trade Burch to RedHawks
TRAVERSE CITY -- A longtime fixture in the heart of the Traverse City Beach Bums lineup is gone. The Beach Bums traded first baseman Chase Burch to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association for a player to be named later and other consiContinued ...
Bums' Langbehn: Season was a success
If it were up to Traverse City Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn, his team would still be fighting for a Frontier League championship. But even after a Divisional Series loss to Lake Erie, Langbehn was happy with the way his team performed this year.Continued ...
Beach Bums season ends with rain-delayed loss
A crushing Game 5 loss in Friday’s early hours ended the Traverse City Beach Bums’ season.Continued ...
Game 5 of Bums' series delayed by rain
The fifth and deciding game of the Frontier League Divisional Series between Traverse City and Lake Erie was delayed by rain on Thursday with the Beach Bums leading 4-2 in the seventh inning.Continued ...
Crushers force Game 5, stun Beach Bums late
The Traverse City Beach Bums were seven outs away from their second-ever trip to the Frontier League Championship Series on Wednesday.Continued ...
- Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Video: Lake Erie 13, Beach Bums 3
Traverse City Beach Bums' first baseman Chase Burch shares his thoughts on tonight's 13-3 loss to Lake Erie. The Frontier League Divisional Series is now tied at 2-2.Continued ...
Bums take 2-1 series lead
Forget about home plate or third base, even second base seemed like a mirage to the Lake Erie Crushers on Tuesday night.Continued ...
- Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Video: TC Beach Bums vs. Lake Erie
Watch interviews with Traverse City's starting pitcher Mike Devine and Manager Gregg Langbehn after the Bums' 5-0 win over Lake Erie, which gave Traverse City a 2-1 lead in its playoff series with the Crushers.Continued ...
- Monday, September 9, 2013
Lake Erie ties series with Bums
Traverse City’s Frontier League playoff series will be coming back to town all knotted up at a game apiece.Continued ...
- Sunday, September 8, 2013
Bums take Game 1 from Crushers
Scott Dunn and Matt Miller combined to shut out the Lake Erie Crushers as the Traverse City Beach Bums won 8-0 to win Game 1 of their Frontier League playoff series.Continued ...
- Saturday, September 7, 2013
Beach Bums open playoff series tonight
The second season begins tonight for the Traverse City Beach Bums.Continued ...
- Friday, September 6, 2013
Bums beat Lake Erie to snap streak
Traverse City snapped an 11-game road losing streak on Thursday, ending the regular season with a 2-0 win over Lake Erie.Continued ...
- Thursday, September 5, 2013
Crushers clinch East championship
Lake Erie clinched the East Division championship with a 5-1 win Wednesday over the Traverse City Beach Bums.Continued ...
- Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Bums lose, clinch playoff spot
AVON, Ohio — Lake Erie's Anderson Hidalgo singled in Craig Hertler with one out in the 12th inning as the Crushers handed Traverse City a 3-2 loss Tuesday in the opening game of a series to decide the Frontier League's East Division. Even with that lContinued ...
- Monday, September 2, 2013
Gusrang wins game for Bums
Sean Gusrang’s two-out, game-wining RBI single in the 10th inning Sunday night set the stage for what promises to be an intriguing end to the Frontier League’s regular season.Continued ...
- Sunday, September 1, 2013
Bums no-hit by Joliet, lose 4-1
Six Joliet pitchers combined on a no-hitter Saturday night as the Slammers beat the Traverse City Beach Bums 4-1 in 10 innings.Continued ...
- Saturday, August 31, 2013
Beach Bums beat Joliet Slammers
Scott Woodward homered and drove in two runs to help the Traverse City Beach Bums stay atop the Frontier League’s East Division.Continued ...
- Friday, August 30, 2013
Burch hits walk-off grand slam in 11th
In the 11th inning, the Washington Wild Things walked Jose Vargas to load the bases and get to Chase Burch.Continued ...
- Monday, August 26, 2013
Beach Bums finish sweep of Normal
Remarkably, it only took a few days for Traverse City to make its recent six-game skid seem like a distant memory.Continued ...
- Sunday, August 25, 2013
Beach Bums beat Normal
The rollercoaster ride of the Traverse City Beach Bums continued Saturday as the Bums topped Noral 5-2 at Wuerfel Park for their second straight win.Continued ...
- Friday, August 23, 2013
Beach Bums drop sixth straight game
Traverse City dropped its sixth straight game on Thursday as River City completed a three-game sweep of the Beach Bums, 8-5.Continued ...
- Thursday, August 22, 2013
Beach Bums let lead slip away
River City plated six runs in the sixth inning to edge the slumping Beach Bums 6-5 in a Frontier League clash here.Continued ...
- Wednesday, August 21, 2013
River City tops Bums, 8-5
River City exploded for five runs in the bottom of the seventh for a come-from-behind 8-5 Frontier League win over the Beach Bums, who have now dropped seven road games in a row.Continued ...
- Monday, August 19, 2013
Boomers sweep Beach Bums with 5-3 win
Traverse City and Schaumburg came into their three-game series each atop their division. Not any more.Continued ...
- Bums ace hurler headed closer to home