View Full Version : Zombie baseball

10-05-2009, 02:08 PM
My characters are cruising around a zombie-infested town in their bitchin' 1966 GTO and bashing heads in from the passenger seat. Think mailbox baseball from Stand By Me, only replace the mailboxes with zombie heads. So I have a few questions:

-What would be the best bat for this? Wood? Aluminum? If wood, with or without nails?
-What kind of damage would this do to a zombie's skull at, say, 25-30 mph?
-How fast can the car go before the batter enters definite wrist-breakage territory?

10-05-2009, 05:14 PM
You win for beset thread title of the day.

I'd go with an aluminum bat simply because it lets you describe the ringing sound it makes on impact and the way it vibrates all the way to the shoulder. If your characters are young, they may be accustomed to aluminum bats, which are used at the high school level in some parts of the country. If you opt for wood (classic for a reason!), the nails would of course inflict additional injury, but they are likely to become firmly lodged in the skull. You'd have to stop to pull the bat free. The zombies you didn't hit might get you. (I see a narrow escape here, and a chance to switch from wood to aluminum for a good reason.) Corollary question: Wooden bats' wood is really dense. Can you drive a nail into it? I'm not sure you could, or even how you'd try, but I'm no woodworker.

If your batter is leaning out a window, holding the bat with both hands, his swing speed won't be what it would be if he stood firmly on the ground, but slower. However, it will be enhanced by the speed of the car. I would think this would easily break, if not shatter, a skull.

While eventually you must enter bone-breaking territory for the batter, a zombie is no mailbox. It is not fixed to the ground but will both move in the direction of the force and fall to the ground.

That last question might be one to pose to a physics student. Seriously. You'd need to provide the amount of force it takes to break the wrist or lower arm, but hey, we've got doctors here, right?

Maryn, wondering if her son would do the math for you

10-05-2009, 07:13 PM
Aluminum all the way. Wood bats are quite dense, but they really don't take all that much force to splinter; in almost every professional game at least one player breaks a bat, usually to an inside pitch, and on college teams players usually go through a couple dozen wooden bats per season. And that is just from a baseball. You can also put a nail through an aluminum bat since the barrel of the bat is hollow. Because it is hollow it can also be swung faster because the center of mass or balance point is closer to the handle. Interestingly, aluminum bats are actually heavier than most wooden ones of the same length, but the position of the center of mass allows for the faster swinging speed. There are also end-loaded bats that are weighted at the head, which makes them even heavier, a tad bit slower, and would make it hard to put a nail through it without some serious tools.

Simply put, the bat would do a lot of damage to a zombie's head. The tissue is decomposing and so it is not nearly as strong, and once again the aluminum bat would have the advantage here. When an object capable of compression (generally a baseball, but in this case a human head) is struck with a wooden bat, it loses roughly 75% of its initial energy to internal friction forces. In a hollow aluminum bat, however, the barrel of the bat itself compresses slightly and acts almost like a spring, and much less of the initial energy is lost. This also means that more of the energy temporarily stored in the barrel is returned to the object being struck (the zombie head). It probably won't make any Hollywood splatter, especially since they are dead and the blood has coagulated. Except in cases of extreme decay you probably aren't going to knock any heads off, but caving in skulls and destroying facial features is going to be the norm.

Within the speeds you are mentioning a broken wrist is not likely as long as the character with the bat is actually swinging it and not just holding it out of the window. A sprained wrist is much more likely, and there is no real scientific point at which it would occur. I suppose you could calculate necessary force, but there are too many variables to say exactly what might sprain or break a wrist in this instance. A person's body (and by extension a zombie) gives way pretty easily, comparatively speaking, which means energy from the swing is going to transfer to the target. It is when you strike something very hard or immobile that the greatest risk of injury occurs, but if you want to injure one of your characters it would certainly be within the realm of believability. Weak bones, a previous, even childhood injury, improper batting technique, bad angle, etc. would all be sufficient to cause injury.

Hope that answered any questions :)

10-05-2009, 07:17 PM
What Shattuck and Maryn said, JB.

Oh, you could drill pilot holes to hammer nails or screws in to the wood.

And, by the way? You're a sick mother.