What is a Hanna bat? Once as common as Hillerich and Bradsby’s Louisville Slugger, the Hanna Batrite brand was endorsed and even preferred by many major leaguers and children alike.
The Hanna Manufacturing Company began in Athens, Georgia, in 1911. The company made shovel handles, hand tools, and farm implements. In 1926 Hanna expanded into making toy bats for department stores and soon after started making baseball bats for sporting goods stores and colleges. Venturing into the major league was the next step in the company’s evolution. Their professional-grade bats were promoted under the name “Batrite.”
Originally, Hanna used southern ash for the baseball line and hickory for the softball bats. The company also advertised a “Tempered Ash” in its catalogs. In 1933 Hanna invented and patented a sealant (a non-chipping treatment) to prevent checking and cracking on its bats, thus lengthening and improving the bats’ performance factor.
Major League players who visited the factory in Athens included Babe Ruth, Luke Appling, and Johnny Mize. The 1936 catalog offered many styles, including the Ruth, Hornsby, Gehrig, Foxx, Ott, Terry and Cronin bat. Photos show that Joe DiMaggio used a Hanna bat during his career.
It is easy to see why our semi-pro team, the Buford Shoemakers, would prefer a “local” bat; and it is easy to see why the Hanna Manufacturing Company preferred local champions in their baseball publication advertising. Hanna boasts that, “A winning team must have the best equipment, and The Hanna Manufacturing Company is proud of the fact that the championship team used, throughout the season and in the tournament, almost exclusively – BATRITE BATS.”
Hanna stopped making bats in 1976, but they remain quite collectible. It is easy to find nice examples on eBay from $10 to $30. But the record high price for a Hanna made, “game used” Lou Gehrig bat is $32,582.53 for a bat sold in 2004.