Golfers hit a ball covered with dimples. So maybe it makes sense that tomorrow's baseball sluggers may swing a dimpled bat. Jeffrey C. Di Tullio, an aeronautics instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was working on a classroom exercise on reducing drag on cylinders when it dawned on him that baseball bats could benefit.
Adding bumps to roughen a smooth surface and improve its aerodynamics isn't new. But raised bumps would scuff a baseball--and help pitchers throw bigger curves. Instead, Di Tullio pressed tiny dimples into the bat. They reduce drag by causing turbulence on the bat's surface, where the air normally flows slower and causes the most drag. The result: A hitter can swing a dimpled bat 3% to 5% faster, which translates into an extra 10 feet to 15 feet on a long drive. Di Tullio, who received a patent in February, says nothing in pro baseball's rule book would ban such bats, although he expects amateur teams to try them out first.