What Is a Fungo Bat?

Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa uses a fungo bat for fielding practice before a game.

Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa uses a fungo bat for fielding practice before a game.

Fungo bats are a practice tool. Coaches use fungo bats to help players develop fundamental catching and fielding skills during practice or warm-up sessions. Fungo bats are longer and lighter than regular bats, giving the user more control than a regular bat can provide.

History

Although the origin of the term “fungo” is unclear, a Sports Illustrated article states one possibility is that “it comes from an old game in which the hitter would yell, ‘One go, two go, fungoes.’ ” Former California Angles coach Jimmie Reese was widely regarded as the best fungo hitter, according to Sports Illustrated.

Use

A fungo bat's size and weight make it easier to operate with one hand or two. Coaches can toss a ball up with one hand and hit pop flies or ground balls farther and with greater accuracy with a fungo bat than with a regular bat. According to an article by LJWorld, high school baseball coach Brad Stoll said fungo bats allow him to hit more balls because heavier regular bats would "wear you out." Fungo bats should be used as a practice tool only and should not be used to hit a pitched ball.

Dimensions

Fungo bats typically weigh between 17 to 22 ounces and may be as long as 37 inches, making them longer than most bats used for hitting. According to Pro Bats, a typical professional baseball player uses a bat that is about 34 inches long and weighs about 32 ounces, although there is considerable variation. Fungo bats not only are longer than regular bats, they also are skinnier. Like regular bats, fungo bats can be made of metal or wood.

Terminology

Fungoes are the balls hit by fungo bats. Many fields have dirt circles in foul territory on each side of home plate called fungo circles. The coach using the fungo bat stands in or near the circle to avoid wearing out the grass with his feet or with the ground balls he hits.

 

About the Author

Thomas Mitsos covers high school sports as the central desk reporter for MLive Media Group, where he has worked since 2009. He has also contributed to "Grand Rapids Magazine" and "Grand Rapids Family." Mitsos holds a B.A. in professional writing from Grand Valley State University.

Photo Credits

  • Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images