Baseball and beer go hand in hand, so it only makes sense to drink your next cold one from the barrel of a wooden bat. You could even drink your favorite frosty beverage in a bat mug personalized with your signature or business logo.
The Fletcher-based Young Bat Company won’t just make a 10-inch-tall bat mug (from $60) that holds 12 ounces for you, but also a specially painted bat (from $110), a bottle opener from the bat’s knob (from $20), or a shot glass from the knob and handle (from $15). They use as much of the billet (the term for the 37-inch-long sphere from which the bat is carved) as possible. No wood left behind.
“There’s so many more baseball fans than there are baseball players,” acknowledges company president Thomas Young. “You have to take into account how they enjoy the game. Not everyone wants to buy a bat, so we’re trying to find a way to connect with those individuals.”
Young and childhood friend, Cody Siniard, recently resurrected the company, which was started in 1993 by Young’s father, Chris. The older Young, who has spent four decades as a general contractor, grew up around the sport and became an avid autograph seeker. When he saw bats at memorabilia shows he knew he could make his own — and make them better.
When he handed handmade bats to professional players to sign, they discussed the high quality of his work and suggested he should make some for their games. So he did, and soon, many of the Atlanta Braves, including Chipper Jones, Javier López, and Andruw Jones, along with other superstars such as Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, and the late Tony Gwynn, swung bats made in Brevard. (The bats are crafted from high-quality maple for endurance. One style, the 360 Woody, is put together of multiple pieces to perform evenly; players don’t have to search for the so-called “sweet spot” for hitting.)
Bored with the process, though, Chris Young stopped production in 2005, and the Young Bat Company went through a dormant period. And then Thomas began asking questions.
“We started picking my dad’s brain all the time,” he says. “I was acting like I was text messaging, but I was typing everything that he was saying.” Last November, they reopened online and began to produce bats, mugs, and other items in two cinderblock buildings in Fletcher, where Chris Young had moved. Through social media, the company (@YoungBatCompany on Twitter and Instagram) has reached a large audience and has filled orders across the country and into Canada.
“We didn’t think the bat mugs would take off as quickly as they have. They have been super popular,” says Young, adding that many were sold as Christmas gifts. “The bats have been popular, and we’ve been surprised how many have been sold considering that baseball is just getting fired back up. The peak time for us will be when high school and college begins to taper off and players get ready for the summer. They all swing wood in the summer [instead of aluminum]. If you want to be a pro, you swing wood.”
Young Bat Company, Fletcher. For more information, call 828-376-3706 or see youngbatcompany.com.