GINA ON THE JOB: Louisville Slugger Pro Bat Coordinator
It's the official bat of major league baseball. This week on Gina on the Job, WDRB's Gina Glaros heads to Louisville Slugger to work as its Pro Bat Coordinator.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) It's the official bat of major league baseball. This week on Gina on the Job, WDRB's Gina Glaros heads to Louisville Slugger to work as its Pro Bat Coordinator for the day.
Anything at Louisville Slugger that goes to major and minor league bat production goes through Garrik Napier.
The wood selection process is at the first step of the production line. "This is actually the heart and soul of what we do. This is the most intense, not labor intensive, but the most important part is the beginning process of picking out the wood for each major league player. So, so we're back here with all of our maple, ash, birch. Each one, we individually hand selected per the requirements of each player.
Glaros and Napier made a bat for Evan Longoria, the third baseman and face of the Tampa Bay franchise. No big deal.
"When you're looking for his billet, you're looking for the straightness of the grains on the end of the billet as well as the whole length of the billet."
It's time to cut the wood into a bat. A machine stores thousands of measurements designed for each player's specifications.
After the bat is sanded and the nubs are sawed off, it's time to brand.
"These plates are anywhere from 1,350 degrees to 1,400 degrees. You always want to have the 'v' of the wood, the soft part on the side," Napier said. "There's a rest on the back, so you want to off-center it a little bit, bring the center of the bat to the center in 's' in slugger, hit your foot pedal, what it's going to do is it's going to roll this bat across these plates."
The next step is sealing the bat. Dip, dab and hang. "What it does is it fills the grain and tightens them up."
Napier and Glaros headed further down the production line to bone rub machine. Counterclockwise and pedal down. It is more difficult than it looks. "It compresses all the soft grains in the wood to make that bat game ready right out of the box."
Bats are sprayed with a clear or colored finish.
Before it's packed and shipped, it's time to play some ball and test out the bats, the last step of about 24 in the production line.
"Even when you were burn branding the bats, I actually sent a picture to Evan Longoria himself. He texted back and said 'you did a great job.' He's looking forward to getting them, can't wait to use them.'"
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