In 2002, two former LSU athletes were rehabbing their recent injuries with Jack Marucci back in Baton Rouge the topic of conversation turned towards Marucci’s recent hobby. This hobby eventually led Eduardo Perez of the St. Louis Cardinals to do something no one else had done yet in Major League Baseball. By taking a different approach to the business and providing a higher quality product to the market, Marucci helped create a whole new ballgame.
Jack Marucci, the Head Athletic Trainer at Louisiana State University first started perfecting the craft of hand-made wooden baseball bats as a hobby, originally making them for his son. As the two former LSU athletes, Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence, rehabbed, they spoke of what to do after their professional MLB careers. Marucci’s hand crafted bats became that future. By 2003, the focus on detail and quality craftsmanship to ensure every hand crafted bat was a ‘gamer’ brought them into ‘on deck’ circles and into the batter’s box.
Kurt Ainsworth was a former LSU All-American and 1st Round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants. He also played on the Gold Medal winning Olympic team in 2000. Joe Lawrence was a former USA Today high school All-American and played professionally for the Toronto Blue Jays. After 8 years in professional baseball Joe returned to LSU to play football.
In speaking with Kurt he recalled: “from my experiences in the big leagues, about half of the bats you’d order would not be what we call gamers,” ‘Gamers’ being a bat that is Major League ready and that the hitter is accustomed to. Kurt went on: “ the quality of service and in the bats just did not seem to be there.” As other bat companies operated their volume based business, Marucci bats intended on being a new alternative.
From Jim the master billet engineer, to Tobais the log cutting craftsman at the wood mill, to Brett Laxton (another former MLB player) the bat craftsman in Baton Rouge, the precision and quality of each product is stressed. “Before a bat reaches an MLB player, it’ll have gone through nearly a dozen hands,” Kurt exclaims, attesting to the quality control of Marucci. Conversely, it takes Louisville Slugger 47 seconds to make a bat.
In 2003 Eduardo Perez was the first MLB player to swing a Marucci and Barry Larkin was the first to score a hit in the big leagues with one. As the word of mouth spread between MLB players, so did the demand for Jack’s bats. After 2009 over 300 MLB players were swinging Marucci. The 2006 National League MVP Ryan Howard swung Marucci, as did Albert Pujols during his 2008 and 2009 MVP campaigns.
- 2 Number of MVP’s won by Albert Pujols while swinging Marucci
- 3 Total Number of MVP’s won
- 5 Number of home runs belted by Chase Utley while swinging Marucci in the 2009 World Series.
- 18 Number of 2009 World Series hitters that swung Marucci.
- 19 Number of 2009 All-Stars that swung Marucci.
- 20 Number of Marucci Employee’s
- 30,000 Number of wooden bats produced per year
Perhaps the most remarkable statistic about Marucci’s growth was the number of paid endorsements: Zero.
Reed Dickens, CEO of Marucci Sports: “We’ve received twice as many orders from MLB players by the All-Star break this season.” As the number of MLB players who use Marucci increases, the credibility and dependability of Marucci has risen as well. With a Player Advisory board made up of current and former MLB sluggers, they’ve put themselves in position for a great partnership.
“We don’t see players as advertisements, [but] instead as experts. This provides direct contact and feedback, which translates into greater attention to detail and quality of our product,” Reed added. Many of these players are also financially invested in the Marucci brand. At Marucci they highly value the feedback, specifications, and the expereinces they are able to extract from their players/experts. The power and revolution of the hand crafted wooden bats combined with the sluggers providing an increased level of credibility led Marucci to launch their aluminum bat CAT5 at this year’s All-Star game in Anaheim, California.
The CAT5 aluminum bat features advanced, patented, anti-vibration technology, making it the most innovative bat currently on the market. Marucci has designed brand experiences that travel to youth tournaments around the country. Here consumers can see the technology on video screens, get connected through their Facebook page, touch the wooden bats of MLB Big Leaguers, and swing away in their CAT5 cages. From Marucci’s website, you can even design your own bat.
For now, Marucci Sports will continue to develop and grow their brand with the help of Outside Eyes, their brand strategizing agency, in which Reed Dickens is also the CEO. Marucci’s quality and service stands out as the leader amongst MLB players and as the players swinging Marucci continue to make history, other companies lagging in today’s environment just may be history. In reference to the future of Marucci, Reed added, “ we see Baton Rouge, Louisiana being to baseball what Louisville, Kentucky has been to baseball over the past 40 years.”
Special thanks to Ben Poritt of Outside Eyes, Kurt Ainsworth & Reed Dickens for their time.
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