Vendor Of The Week: Marucci

Website:
www.maruccisports.com

Founded: 2002

History and Background of Marucci Bats:
When Jack Marucci saw his 4 year old son Gino slide head first into home plate at his first T-ball game (when most of the kids on the team didn’t know the difference between first base and third base, or which one to run to), he knew his son shared his love for the game. However, after two seasons of hearing the “clink” of the metal bat in the backyard, Jack and Gino could bear the sound no more.

Searching for a child-size wooden bat proved to be quite difficult, even in the age of the Internet where everything is for sale. Most of the big companies didn’t offer smaller bats and would only make a custom bat for a hefty price.

Marucci, who had inherited some woodworking tools from his late father (big Jack Marucci) had been slowly teaching himself the craft of woodworking. He purchased a small lathe and kit of tools and taught himself how to use it to craft wooden baseball bats. The rest is sports history…

Marucci Bat Company™ specializes in handcrafted, customized wooden bats for players of all levels.

If you listen carefully, beneath the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, you’ll hear the whirl of a lathe in a little wood shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Step inside to the smell of fresh cut wood shavings and the freshly mowed grass of Marucci Field. At work is Uniontown, Pennsylvania native Jack Marucci, buffing a high gloss into the black lacquer of a new bat. From the walls of his shop, ghostly images of baseball greats seem to grin with approval.

The Marucci Bat Company™ takes pride in turning top quality wooden baseball bats in the same tradition and precise technique of the earliest bat companies. Every Marucci Bat™ is cut, calibrated, balanced, buffed and lacquered by hand. Owners of our bats will take the same pride in every swing.

Vendor of the Week: Rawlings

Web-Site:
www.Rawlings.com

Founded: 1887

History and Background of Rawlings:
Rawlings is a major manufacturer of competitive team sports equipment and apparel for baseball, basketball and football, as well as licensed MLB, NFL and NCAA retail products. Rawlings is a major supplier to professional, collegiate, interscholastic and amateur organizations worldwide, including the Official Baseball Supplier to Major League Baseball and the Official Basketball and Football for NCAA Championships.

The first real innovation in glove making occurred in 1912 when Rawlings Sporting Goods Company introduced the “Sure Catch” glove, which was “endorsed by leading players all over the country”. The Sure Catch was a one-piece glove with sewn-in finger channels and looked better suited for a duck’s foot than a man’s hand. Catchers’ mitts used at the time were large and bulky with a single leather thong passing for a web.

In 1920, Bill Doak, a journeyman pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, approached Rawlings with an idea for improving the baseball glove from a mere protective device to a genuine aid in fielding. The “Bill Doak” model was so revolutionary that it stayed in Rawlings’ line until 1953. Its key feature was a multi-thong web laced into the first finger and thumb, which created for the first time in baseball’s young life, a natural pocket.

In 1925, Rawlings unveiled a three-fingered fielder’s glove, and 10 years later improved the Bill Doak model with a two-piece leather web. At the same time, the “T” web became a rage for first basemen’s mitts. The pocket underwent a pronounced change in 1941 when the Trapper Mitt, also known as the Claw, appeared. The “Deep Well” pocket was so unique that Rawlings quickly patented it. The design was improved in 1950 by adding a leather piece across the top. Another significant creation occurred in 1948 with the three-fingered Playmaker. A five-fingered fielder’s model, with all fingers laced together, provided greater pocket control.

The six-fingered Trap-Eze evolved in the 1960′s. In more recent years, Rawlings produced the Fastback design, which gives a glove a snugger fit, greater extension and overall control. The Holdster is a slot through which a finger can be extended for additional protection from impacts on the pocket. Then, there is the Edge-U-Cated Heel with its extended U-shaped lacing and the Pro H Web and much copied Basket Web.

Some of Rawlings more recent glove innovations also include the unique Spin-Stopper design which reduces ball spin when the ball hits the glove, and the Cantilever glove design feature that provides a cushioned area between the hand and the glove’s palm area. In all, Rawlings has produced and patented more functionally innovative glove features and designs than that of any other glove manufacturer. The result is that the modern baseball glove is much larger, more comfortable, better padded and made to last far longer than its ancestors. It is not uncommon to see today’s Major League players wearing the same Rawlings’ glove they wore during their college playing days. In fact, Rawlings is the #1 glove in the major leagues. Rawlings maintains about 65 models of baseball and softball mitts and gloves in its line. The prototypes of virtually all of them have been field tested by professionals before entering a sporting goods dealer’s inventory.

Rawlings Gold Glove Award:
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is given to the best by those who best know how to evaluate performance. Rawlings established the Gold Glove Award to recognize the best fielders at each position in Major League Baseball. Managers of each team select a squad of the best defensemen in their league, excluding their own team.  Since 1958, the Rawlings Gold Glove Award has been presented annually to a lineup of 9 players for both the American and National Leagues.  In 1957 coaches voted for the first team of Gold Glove players.

1957 Gold Glove Award Winners:
P  Bobby Shantz, New York Yankees
C  Sherm Lollar, Chicago White Sox
1B  Gil Hodges, Brooklyn
2B  Nellie Fox, Chicago White Sox
3B  Frank Malzone, Boston
SS  Roy McMillan, Cincinnati
LF  Minnie Minoso, Chicago White Sox
CF  Willie Mays, New York Giants
RF  Al Kaline, Detroit

Come check out our line of Rawlings bats at JustBats.com today!

Vendor Of The Week: Akadema

Website:
www.AkademaPro.com

Founded: 1998

History and Background of Akadema:
In Akadema’s short but remarkable history it has become one of America’s hottest baseball and softball equipment company for professional, college, high school, and serious youth players. The Akadema phenomenon started with the Professional Glove Series and continues with the Reptilian®, Praying Mantis®, Pro Soft™ and Prodigy™ Glove Series as well as the Amish Wood™, Tacktion™ and Xtension® Aluminum Bat Series. Akadema’s ownership attributes increasing market share to their innovative professional baseball and softball product line in contrast to mass-produced products that have little to do with quality, feel, or design to raise the level of play.

Akadema’s products are manufactured for professional players but are now accessible to semi pro, college, high school, and serious youth players. Akadema products are still designed with the professional player in mind but competitively priced for the professional player at heart. So it’s your turn to think like a professional, play like a professional, and use Akadema Professional!

Akadema now has both baseball and fastpitch softball advisory staffs that they work with closely to implement new ideas.  Members of the baseball advisory staff include Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Gary Carter as well as Howard Johnson, Reggie Smith, Luis Polonia, Sandy Martinez and many others.  Fastpitch stars that are on the advisory staff include Crystl Bustos and Julie Smith.  The input on performance from the advisory staff gives Akadema something they cannot put a price on.  Their advisors don’t talk about marketing or places to sell the gloves, they just care about performance.

Check out our line from Akadema at JustBats.com.

Vendor Of The Week: DeMarini

Website:
www.Demarini.com

Founded: 1989

History and Background of DeMarini:
In 1992, DeMarini Sports had something to celebrate. The three-year-old company had climbed a rung on the proverbial ladder of success, moving its world headquarters from a dirt-floored barn to a slightly larger metal shack. “It was a big move for us,” recalled Ray DeMarini from the batting cage of DeMarini Sport’s present-day Bat Industrial Complex. “The new shop was larger, more storm resistant, and -best of all- it had a heater.”

In the early days, DeMarini Sports hardly made a blip on the radar screen of softball. With no retailers and virtually no advertising budget, DeMarini grew steadily by selling high-performance bats directly to customers. While established companies made “juiced” bats for the pros and ordinary bats for the public, DeMarini focused on making one line of high-performance bats for pros and amateurs alike. This approach, combined with a passion for the sport, led to the greatest innovation in softball history – the world’s first multi-wall bat: the DeMarini Doublewall.

Released in 1993, the DeMarini Doublewall was the world’s first multi-wall bat. Like a modern golf driver or oversized tennis racket, the Doublewall had a giant “sweetspot,” which allowed average players to hit like pros. DeMarini’s sales exploded, and before long opposing bat manufacturers to notice. DeMarini – a homegrown company led by a softball fanatic – had shaken the establishment silly.

To understand the rise of the DeMarini Dynasty, you need to know Ray DeMarini. A cult hero among avid players, Ray DeMarini emerged on the professional softball scene at the age of 40, a veritable geriatric among younger players. With a scientific approach to training, a batting speed of 96 miles-per-hour and a bombastic attitude, DeMarini fast earned a reputation as a savage competitor.

In June of 1987, ESPN launched a nationwide search for a hardcore player to advise on a series of instructional softball videos. When approached by producer Erich Lytle, the biggest boys in softball repeatedly spoke of a five-foot-seven softball giant—Ray DeMarini. DeMarini had mastered reflex hitting, a technique that drops the ball squarely between the infield and outfield. Impressed with DeMarini’s knowledge and scientific approach to training, Lytle not only hired Ray as an advisor—he hired him as the host. Together, they produced Ray DeMarini’s Reflex Hitting System, ESPN’s most successful home video to date.

Having garnered national recognition through ESPN, Ray turned his efforts toward designing a high-performance bat for the masses. To accomplish this, he needed an engineer. “Not just an engineer,” he said, “but a boot-strapping rocket scientist who could build an empire with pocket change.” Ray’s call was answered by Mike Eggiman. Having grown up on a farm, Eggiman was adept at making the most of a situation. Case in point: the company’s first piece of automated bat-making equipment had the heart of an abandoned washing machine.

With Eggiman as Chief Engineer, DeMarini Sports delivered a series of industry firsts: the first multi-wall bat (Doublewall Distance), the first high-performance bat for massive players (Fatboy) and the first high-performance youth bat (Black Coyote).

In 2000, DeMarini joined forces with Wilson Sporting Goods to develop the next generation of hitting technology. Ray believed it was a perfect fit, as both companies shared a vision of developing game-enhancing equipment for avid players. What’s more, the companies had complimentary products: Wilson was the leader in gloves, balls and protective gear, while DeMarini made the world’s finest bats. According to Chris Considine, Vice President/General Manager of Wilson Sporting Goods: “The thing that struck me most about DeMarini was their passion for sports and their true competitiveness.

Within a year, DeMarini unveiled the industry’s first concept bat, the $35,000 F1. Secured under lock and key at the DeMarini Bat Industrial Complex in Hillsboro, Oregon, the F1 served as a technological storehouse for future products, including DeMarini’s landmark Half & Half system.

In December 2001, 12 years after the genesis of DeMarini Sports, Ray DeMarini died of cancer in his Northwest Portland home. He was 55. The next summer, the Portland Metro Softball Association paid homage to the “King of Softball” with the dedication of Ray DeMarini Field. Formerly known as Delta #1, the field was DeMarini’s favorite place to test bats during the early days of business. Ray DeMarini—bat maker and player extraordinaire—was remembered for his high-performance softball bats and unwavering encouragement of everyday players. Today, a 40-foot sign announcing RAY DEMARINI FIELD graces the outfield, and an interpretive display chronicling Ray’s life greets players as they register for games.

More “Insane Dedication to Performance” is in store for tomorrow.

Check out DeMarini’s line at JustBats.com