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Archive for the ‘equipment’ Category

Growing up playing with aluminum bats, bat selection rarely entered my mind. I would survey the bats provided by the team at the start of the season, swing the select few that were in the proper size/weight category, and pick one that felt best. That would be my bat for the season.

Now, I play in a wood bat league and am responsible for selecting and purchasing my bats.  The selection of wood bats out there is overwhelming. In addition to Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, and Mizuno there are hundreds of small bat companies all telling us why their wood is best and how their process is superior. Once you’ve picked your brand and wood type, you still have some work to do to select the model that fits you best.

Personally, I haven’t been able to figure it out. I’ve been playing in wood bat leagues for eight seasons and I still find myself uncertain about what bat I should be swinging. I am not brand loyal. I am most certainly not loyal to any bat model. All I do know is that I’m devastated when my bat breaks because not only does that mean I have to fork over another $40 for a bat but I need to begin the whole decision process again. For that isolated moment in time when I get jammed and break my bat, I feel like Roy Hobbs (and not in that game-winning homer kind of way).

Based on a recently conducted survey* among 102 amateur ballplayers, I may not be alone. 25% of players purchase multiple brands of bats. This statistic does not even address the number of players experimenting with various wood types and bat models.

Any advice from you wood ballplayers out there? How do I find a Wonderboy?

What does this mean for the wood bat industry? What strategies could some of the larger brands take to establish greater brand loyalty? Is this an opportunity for smaller brands to break through?

*The survey was conducted by the Grip N’ Rip Club to learn about baseball purchasing behaviors among amateur ballplayers.

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Joe Murphy writes about how to properly care for your glove.

Joe is the CEO of Glove, Inc., a company in the greater Boston area that repairs and restores gloves.

Rawlings-Catchers-Mitt-after-large-2

In taking proper care of your glove, the first thing you have to remember is that your glove is made of dead skin. The hide is off the animal. There is no more blood or oxygen getting into the fibers of the skin, keeping it moisturized and alive. Your glove is a dead thing!

So, you are involved in a race against time, so to speak. You want to get the most wear and take the best care of your glove, before it inevitably breaks down to the point where it’s unusable. Most of us neglect our gloves and by doing so we accelerate the deterioration process. Unfortunately, most ballplayers don’t think a lot about how to care for a glove.  We’re too busy thinking about more important things like, “What’s this guy throwing? How’s his change-up? Is my belt in my bag?”

Here are some tips on how to best take care of that prized possession:

– Always rest your glove on its thumb and little finger, preserving the shape of the pocket. Makes sense, eh?

proper way to store glove

– After playing ball, wipe your glove off with a clean, moist cloth. Get all of the obvious surface dirt off of it. I also recommend getting a small brush and going over the laces, removing any trapped dirt.

– Keep your glove out of the sun. Don’t store it in a plastic bag. Keep it away from any heat source. All of these things will dry the natural oils out of the leather.

– Don’t let it sit in your bag in between games. Find a shelf to rest it on.

– If your glove gets really dirty, I recommend washing it with Saddle soap, wiping off the excess with a cotton cloth and letting it dry naturally. Don’t leave it in the sun to dry. Don’t put it in a microwave or in an oven to dry – you might as well get a gun and shoot it.

– Re-moisturize your glove with a product.  I highly recommend Doctor Jackson’s Hide Rejuvenator. I know, it’s got a wacky name, but it is the very best stuff I have ever used on baseball gloves. It is a bee’s wax, along with other light oils, that seeps into the pores of the leather, keeping the glove moisturized without weighing it down.

Have fun, play ball and hit ’em where they ain’t.

Blogger Bio

Joe has been repairing and reconditioning baseball gloves since 1983. He has played amateur and semi-pro baseball for 21 years, and has coached on the college level. Over the past 25 years, he has worked on and restored thousands of gloves. His work has been endorsed by hundreds of ballplayers, from Little League to the Pros. He reconditioned the glove Dennis Eckersley used in the 1989 World Series. He worked on gloves of former Red Sox Trainer, Charlie Moss, right in the Red Sox Club House.

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BaseballThink correspondent Jim Storer visited Louisville Slugger last week as part of the Innovator’s Road Trip.

louisville_slugger_logo

We had a great “behind the ropes” tour with Rick Redman, the VP of Customer Communications at Louisville Slugger. It makes the most sense to start this post where our tour ended, in the Slugger Museum. Inside the front door there’s a butter churn.. huh, what’s that got to do with baseball bats? Well, that’s what we asked and here’s what Rick told us.

Louisville Slugger – Beginnings (click link for audio recording)

We found this to be an amazing story that really highlighted what we’d been hearing throughout the Innovators Road Trip – innovation usually comes from improving or building something based on a product that already exists.

Back to baseball.

In the early days of baseball (and still today), players would try anything to get a little edge. Rick told us a story about how players traveling in the area playing games would often sneak out of the hotel early in the morning and wait outside the Slugger factory so they could get in first (and get the best wood) when they opened the doors. Talk about competition!

Early on the company hand-turned all of the bats they made on a lathe. This relatively time consuming process limited their production capacity, but the personal attention they gave each player helped them build a strong brand that’s kept them in business for 125 years!

During our tour, Rick introduced us to Tom, who had been working in the factory for 39 years. He’s currently working on MLB player bats (all done with a computerized lathe), but he started out hand turning bats on a lathe and offered to show us how it’s done. Check out the video.

Now take a look at how long it takes to produce the same bat with today’s technology.

Making a major league bat takes even more precision. Slugger has one machine that they use to produce bats for MLB players. It cost them $1M and uses a computer to store all of the individual players specific characteristics and make bats to match.

Pretty cool stuff, but not as cool as seeing the pile of wood stock that Pedroia’s going to use to bring Boston another World Series title this year. 🙂

Pedroia's Lumber

Jim

Note: Cross-posted on innovatorsroadtrip.com

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Breaking In A Glove

*Guest Blogger* Joe Murphy discusses the proper way to break in a glove.

Joe is the CEO of Glove, Inc., a company in the greater Boston area that repairs and restores gloves.

catchersmitt

Joe has been repairing and reconditioning baseball gloves since 1983. He has played amateur and semi-pro baseball for 21 years, and has coached on the college level. Over the past 25 years, he has worked on and restored thousands of gloves. His work has been endorsed by hundreds of ball players, from Little League to the Pros. He reconditioned the glove Dennis Eckersley used in the 1989 World Series. He worked on gloves of former Red Sox Trainer, Charlie Moss, right in the Red Sox Club House.

Old Wives Tales
There are many old wives tales about the proper, the best, the only way to break in a new glove. Let me take a minute to dispell a few of them.

The most widely known misnomer is to take your new glove, put a ball in the pocket, wrap some string around it and leave it under your mattress. No, that doesn’t work too well. You get this lump in your mattress, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep, and you end up with a smelly glove that still needs to be broken in.

Another one is to soak a new glove in a bucket of water, let it dry in the sun and play catch with it. You might as well just throw it in a dumpster, because soaking a glove in water will ruin it. As it dries, all of the natural oils in the leather – the only thing that is keeping the leather supple and healthy, dries out. Such a glove never had a chance.

The best way to break in a new glove
The best way to break in a new glove is to play catch with it, a lot of catch.
We all have very unique hands. Just like fingerprints, no two hands are alike. Even your right hand is subtly different from your left in size, strength, etc. A new glove has to, and eventually will conform to the unique contours and features of your hand. In order to do that, the glove must be worn a lot and be used in catch a lot – so the leather gets warm, stretches a bit and conforms to the unique way you hold the glove and catch the ball.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t use mink oil, neetsfoot or linseed oil on your glove. They are too heavy and will clog the pores of the leather. Then, as the glove gets dirty, the dirt and oil get trapped in the leather, making it heavy and eventually will rot the leather.
  • Don’t use Vasoline or other petroleum products on your glove for the same reason. It’s too heavy for the leather and will clog up the pores. You want your glove to break in light and flexible.
  • Don’t use shaving cream. The foam gets clogged up in between the laces and the lacing starts to rot.
  • Do wipe your glove down with a damp cool cloth after you use it.
  • Let it rest on the thumb and little finger, so you don’t distort the pocket you are trying to create. Never let a glove rest on its side. This is a cardinal sin. The glove will cave in under its own weight and you’ll never have a well formed pocket.
  • Don’t use any additives to try to accelerate the break-in process. Just let the leather conform to your hand naturally, by playing as much catch with your new glove as you can. You’ll know when it’s ready for its game debut: when it feels right, when it feels like part of your hand.

Have fun and play ball. Hit ’em where they ain’t.

Joe Murphy
CEO, Glove, Inc.

Call (617) 230-3371 for more information on Joe’s glove restoration process.

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