I've spent the past week putting together a list of all the small wood bat companies I can find in North America. I know I'm not done with my research, but already I have identified over 75 small companies with web sites. Besides the few commonly known companies like Old Hickory, Sam Bat, D-Bat, M-Powered Baseball, and The Marruci Bat Company, there are companies like Rock Bats, Bayou Bat Company, Hoosier Bat Company, The Northern Mash Baseball Company, and Talbot Turnings (their bats are pictured here). The list goes on and on. Most of these companies work with both Ash and Hard Maple. Some, like Barnstable Bat, located in Cape Cod, also make Birch bats. Many can customize their products for you. And many of these bat masters are true craftsmen, creating beautiful works of art.
What's really important to keep in mind here is that virtually all of these companies are small businesses run by dedicated and passionate entrepreneurs who love the game of baseball for all the right reasons. Companies hail from almost every state in the union. A number of top companies can also be found next door in Canada (Zinger Bats, Sam Bat, Prairie Sticks, KR3 Bats, and Mash Bat in particular). The typical quality maple bat runs in price between $60 and $80. High-end bats can cost as much as $100 or more. There are usually discounts for bulk purchases.
Another obvious point is that most of these companies depend upon skilled manual labor and the kind of work ethic that ensures quality with every product turned out.
If anyone is interested, I am considering putting my database of bat companies into an online format with a geographic interface. I want to strongly suggest that players consider shopping regionally and locally for their bats. Supporting businesses in your "neck of the woods" should be the first tenet of a free market system. And if you find a product you like, I'd suggest trying to contact the company and maybe even go meet the bat masters who make your favorite stick. If you're going to hit home runs, you ought to be able to look in the eyes of the person who made your bat for you and thank them...
Next up - The Big Boys: Just How Interested in Your Wood Purchases Are They?
See you on the field.