The ancient and dishonorable game of mailbox baseball has been around since automobiles and rural mailboxes became comingled. Bored and show-off young-uns think that it is fun to swing a ball bat at roadside mailboxes and hear the thunk of impact. The 1986 movie, Stand by Me enacted this in broad daylight, but it is most often practiced in the dark, maybe after Saturday evening football games. It is not exclusively on rural roads. I have seen dozens of mailboxes on city streets with the characteristic dents of bat impact.
A variety of stories can be found on a web search. The most tragic was a goof by a smart-aleck driver who pulled away from the mailbox at the last minute to embarrass his buddy with "strike one." At the next box, the buddy stuck his head and upper body out of the car window, impacting his head on the mailbox. They didn't repeat this event. There is also a Google report of a swinger hitting a telephone pole with an aluminum at and the rebound bonked the kid in the back seat.
Some rural residents have been hit multiple times and replaced mailboxes many times when inoperable. One resourceful farmer tired of the frequent damage, almost every weekend. He anchored a hunk of railroad rail in concrete about a foot to the upstream side of the mailbox. The next weekend the lone ranger culprit met his equal. The vandal had been putting a 2 x 4 across the front and rear windows, extending two feet to the right of the car. By himself, he would tool down the roadway, bashing mailboxes at will. When he hit the rail, his thunk was replaced by a sudden swerve of his Chevie into the ditch. A pretty good comeuppance, don't you think?
Many victims have gone to expensive mailboxes, some commercial or some made with heavy steel pipe or other durable materials.
One resourceful inventor (author of this blog) has come up with a Bat Grabbertm that removes the bat from hands of the swinger, and turns off the game for that evening. The Bat Grabbertm was entered in the ABC television show, "The Great American Inventor." The judges got a kick (not a thunk) out of the presentation, but this wasn't a million dollar invention and it didn't win the prize. The Bat Grabbertm did make the trailer of the ABC video broadcast, and it opened this blog. The inventor has a bunch of Bat Grabberstm in his barn and has recently made them available on e-bay, found by either its Mailboxertm logo or Bat Grabbertm.
The Bat Grabbertm received U.S. Patent 6,983,876, "Tool Seizing Apparatus for Deterring Vandals."
The Bag Grabbertm looks very innocent, as shown here on a mailbox. It has a plastic tubel surrounding a pair of aluminum channels that anchor seven ring nails hiding inside the tube and pointed toward the bat. Upon impact, the plastic tube collapses and some of the nails penetrate the bat.
The Bat Grabbertm is easy to install with a couple of drilled holes, but there are three negatives to its use. It won't grab an aluminum bat, but most vandals use an old Louisville Sluggertm. It did its job for a neighbor of the inventor, but the vandals didn't want to leave any fingerprints at the scene of the crime. They came back to the mailbox and ripped the bat and box off its post. Game was over for the night, but the resident replaced the box in order to receive mail. To date, we don't know whether a grabbed bat represents a hazard to drivers that night or next morning before it can be removed. We hope that it doesn't impact a fender or rear view mirror, and can't take financial responsibility for such repairs. An attorney from Texas was among the first buyers of the Bat Grabbertm, but that's hardly a legal opinion.