When the organizers of the Ohio Historical Society baseball team needed historic bats, they turned to player Charley Trudeau. They knew the woodworker who restored houses would have the equipment to make the replica wooden bats used in the historic league.
Before long, Trudeau was making bats for other teams and friends of friends. He decided in the late 1990s to make bats fulltime.
“Every time I’d make a few, more people wanted them,” he recalled. “I either needed to do bats or do houses. I decided to give bats a try.”
By 2000, he was approved to make wooden bats for Major League Baseball players.
How long did it take the business to develop a national presence?
During the 1999 season, I started getting calls from a minor-league player in the (Milwaukee) Brewers system. He hit well with the bat but it wasn’t major-league approved. During the off season, I contacted Major League Baseball and got approved for 2000.
What did it take to get that approval?
Primarily you have to prove that you can make a good bat and that you can consistently make a good bat.
What are some exciting things that have happened to you because of the company?
I’ve met all sorts of players over the years — some famous, some not. It’s been exciting to meet ’em. I got to participate in the 150th anniversary celebration of baseball.
How do your bats differ from others on the market?
In two ways. It has to do with quality. If you don’t use good wood, you’ve got a crummy bat. We’re very selective on the wood we use. Once you have the right wood, you have to have the right person and the right equipment to make the best bat.
A lot of baseball bats are made out of ash. Will the spread of emerald ash borer impact the industry?
That’s a scary proposition. I don’t have a crystal ball but it’s likely that ash will cease to be a commonly available wood, and we’ll have to find something else to make bats out of — not just bats, but furniture and all kinds of things.
How did you select the name of your business?
The idea that the phoenix regenerates itself every 100 years and we were bringing back 100-year-old bats.