By Kate Royals | LSU Student
It started out in a shed in Baton Rouge and has since expanded to a wood mill on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.
Jack Marucci's baseball bat company, Marucci Bats, grew from the ground up. Literally. When Marucci's son Gino was years old, he asked his father for a wooden baseball bat. Marucci, who is head of weight training at the LSU athletic department, called around to bat vendors and found that he came up short.
"When you're eight to nine years old, there's not many too choose from, especially from the wooden bat standpoint," Marucci explains. "He was watching the major league guys use a wood bat, and he wanted to swing one."
Marucci decided to take matters into his own hands. He remembered how to use a wood lathe from a junior high woodworking class.
"I kind of remembered how to cut a bat out of a blank and was able to obtain some of those," Marucci recalls. Marucci made that first bat for his son in a shed in his backyard, and continued to make more for his son's fellow little league players.
While the company has since grown to service big name major league players, Marucci still designs and produces children's baseball bats.
"We produce bats as small as 22 inches. We have an 18-inch bat, actually, and do a lot of children's bats," Marucci says. "I don't think anyone felt like there was going to be a market for it, but we've done okay with it."
Marucci attributes the company's expanding success to his "great business partners," including a former assistant press secretary to President George W. Bush, and a commitment to a quality product.
"We didn't really chase the paycheck per say. If you start doing it that way, the quality goes down. We all had other avenues of income, so we could take our time," something Marucci says customers appreciated.
Players praise the bats, commenting on their consistency, wood quality, finish and detail.
"They usually say it's one of the best bats, or the best balanced, or designed bats they've had," Marucci says. The company uses ash and maple wood.
Marucci's office is crammed with custom baseball bats, along with pictures of his children playing Little League and favorite major leaguers swinging home runs with Marucci bats. Marucci's passion for his work is evident – even in the years when no profit was turned. "It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was quality."
Although the company has grown and Marucci finds himself more on the design end of things, he still enjoys going to the shop during football's off-season and making the bats himself.
One of the bats in Marucci's office is his favorite – so much so that he tracked it down on eBay and placed the highest bid to get it back into his hands. The bat was made for the Red Sox's Manny Ramirez, and its model name is CB24 – Curse Buster 24.
"The bat was made to break the curse of the Yankees," Marucci says with a smile. "And the Red Sox ended up coming back and winning the World Series."
The company has recently added another type of bat and customer to its repertoire: the metal bat for college baseball players.
"They are making a huge impact in college baseball now," Marucci says.