Premier Date: August 8, 2007
This myth operates under the assumption that cork-filled bats can be swung faster because of their lighter weight, and that the springiness of the cork could propel the ball farther. To eliminate the human factor of the myth, Adam and Jamie constructed a special batting rig and used a pressurized air cannon to launch the baseball at it. Tests showed that the cannon could launch the ball 80 miles per hour, which is the average speed of most MLB pitches. Regulation bats could propel the ball away at 80mph while corked bats could only propel the ball 40mph, half the speed of regulation bats. The reason was because cork bats have less mass to transfer force into the ball, and the cork actually absorbs some of the ball’s impact. The MythBusters concluded that using a cork filled bat will not improve your performance (it will in fact hurt it), and the major league batters who were caught using cork-filled bats risked their careers for nothing.
The Build Team started off with a small scale test by dropping dry and humid balls from a certain height. The results showed that the dry balls tended to bounce higher than the humid balls. For the full scale test, the Grant built his own rig (dubbed “The Mad Batter”) that could both swing the bat and pitch the ball at the same time. They then tested the rig at a baseball field using humid balls, dry balls, and control balls stored in a normal environment. The results showed definitively that the dry balls were hit the farthest distance and the humid balls being hit the least distance.
Despite the testimony of some pitchers, the myth would defy the laws of physics because in order for a fast ball to actually rise, it must exert more force upward than its own weight. However, the maximum force a fast ball can exert is only half of its weight, making a rising fast ball impossible.
While a popular tactic used by baseball players, some speculate that sliding will actually slow a person down due to the friction being exerted between their bodies and the ground. With some coaching, the Build Team learned how to slide like baseball players. They then timed how long it would take to run to a base and slide to a base. The results showed that all Tory, Jamie, and Grant reached the base faster by sliding rather than running by several fractions of a second. The reason was because as they ran, the Tory, Jamie, and Grant had to slow down at the last second so that their momentum wouldn’t carry them past the base. With such definitive results, the MythBusters agreed that sliding to a base is faster than running.
The MythBusters modified their cork bat rig to fire the baseball at much higher speeds. It fired the ball at a static bat with speeds over 200mph, which is twice as fast as the fastest pitch ever recorded. However, the ball remained intact. The MythBusters then fired the cannon at maximum power. The hide of the ball did come off, but the ball was fired at about 437mph, four times faster than any human could pitch.