Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


Best Senior Thesis in Physical Sciences

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Scott Gould

Reader 2

James Higdon

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© 2019 Patrick E. Shore


Significant research has been conducted on the physics of ball and bat collisions in an effort to model and understand real-world conditions. This thesis expands upon previous research to determine the maximum distance a ball can travel under ideal circumstances. Bat mass, bat speed, pitch speed and pitch spin were controlled values. These values were selected based on the highest recorded MLB values for their respective category. Specifically these are: Babe Ruth’s largest bat, Giancarlo Stanton’s recorded swing speed and Aroldis Chapman’s fastest fastball. A model was developed for a planar collision between a bat and ball using conservation laws in order to achieve the maximum exit velocity of the ball during a head-on collision. However, this thesis is focused on home runs and long fly-balls that occur from oblique collisions rather than the line drives produced by head-on collisions. The planar collision model results were adjusted to oblique collisions based on data from previous experimental research. The ball and bat were assumed to be moving in opposite directions parallel to one another at the point of impact with the ball slightly elevated above the bat. The post-collision results for the launch angle, spin and final exit velocity of the ball were calculated as functions of the perpendicular distance from the centerline of the bat to the centerline of the ball. Trajectories of the ball were calculated using a flight model that measured the final distance of the ball based on lift and drag forces. The results indicate that the optimum pre-collision parameters described above will maximize the distance traveled by the ball well beyond the farthest recorded home run distance. Experimentally determined factors such as the drag coefficient and coefficient of restitution have a significant impact on the flight of the ball. Implications of the results are discussed.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.