Monday, December 03, 2012

Lehigh Valley BatWorks Hits a Home Run

These maple and ash planks await their metamorphosis into baseball bats
From Little League through the college level, aluminum and carbon-fiber composite bats reign supreme. With names like Voodoo, Stealth and Attack, manufacturers attempt to instill some baseball magic into these metal and plastic bats. Coaches love them. Parents, not so much. They can cost $450. But what about the kids?

Given the opportunity, they'll most often drop the plastic or metal for the cheaper wood bat. The ball might not travel as far. It's definitely harder to hit. But no plastic or metal bat, despite their magical names, can replace the sharp crack of a piece of lumber sending Mr. Spalding over the fence ... or through someone's window. It's the sweet sound of Spring. Real magic.

Zach Reidy, age 5, is ready to swing away.
So not surprisingly, wood bats are making a come back, especially in tournament play. Pennsylvania Legion baseball is returning to the wood. This is where Lehigh Valley Bat Works, enters the picture. A wood bat manufacturer with a new batting facility located near the diamonds at East Allen Township's beautiful Bi-Centennial Park, it's going gangbusters.

At a recent open house, proprietor Steve Toth demonstrated the 10-day process involved in making a wood baseball bat, from beginning to end.

The finished product, waiting for a good home
First, the lumber - solid cuts of ash and maple - is weighed and carefully examined for defects. "Every bat we make is a pro quality bat," Toth claims. After that, the bat goes on the lathe for shaping, with a tolerance of 0.002 inches. From there, it's a sander. Finally, the bat is stained, painted and personalized for the hitter. Just as Roy Hobbs burned "Wonderboy" and lighting bolts into his "very special" bat, so can every Little League ball player, who can come to Bat Works and get fitted for the kind of bat that best suits him.

The best part is the price. A youth bat can be as cheap as $40. A heavier piece of lumber, and one that could be used in the Show, will range between $65-85.

LV Batworks' Steve Toth has hit a home run with his wood bat business

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

This is a great article. I wish the owners of this company the best of luck. I wish there was a company like this when I was a kid growing up. Peace!

Anonymous said...

Very cool post. Hope these guys do well and that sickening "ping" goes the way of the dodo. My first-ever hit was with a 28 oz Louisville Slugger with Nellie Fox's name burned on the end. It was liner down the left field line at Hackett Park - double and an rbi. Four plus decades ago and it feels like yesterday. God I love baseball. Thanks, again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for the nice comments. This is the kind of story I like best. I won't ask whatever happened to Nellie.