(WKTV) - To make the perfect baseball bat for the major leagues, it not only takes the perfect tree, but also a passion for the game.
Tim and Connie Haney operate the Cooperstown Bat Company in Cooperstown, along with their shop in Hartwick, with that passion. And it all started when the fans flocked to the Baseball Hall of Fame looking for bats.
Connie says, “They were coming to Cooperstown and asking about whether or not there were any bats were they could get them signed by Hall of Famers," said Connie Haney.
And that filled a niche, but the souvenir collector is only part of this major league business. This year, Tim spent time in spring training camps for the majors, in hopes of a player using a Cooperstown Bat creation.
“There are parameters we have to stay within when we're making a bat for pro use,” Connie said.
And it's that science that Tim uses for every bat made here. All the hand-split ash, maple and now yellow birch is selected within a 350-mile radius of the shop and after inspection, is positioned on a lathe and carefully cut to specs. Early bats of the 1800s were made by the players using different designs with odd-looking grips to get that extra edge.
It wasn’t until 1859 that the first rules for bats came into play. Now, critical weight and size restrictions are needed to match the ever changing Major League regulations.
“The whole key to bat making is to make a balanced bat,” Tim added.
A rack of custom bats in the shop was put together when the entire high school team from Scotia, N.Y., stopped in.
“They came down and we basically fit the whole team; and not just the weight and grip... but colors, too,” Time said.
That passion for the game? Those bats the kids take to the batter's box from this shop? The ones turned and hand-sanded by Tim and his crew are exactly the same as the ones used in the majors...and that's because “one of the most wonderful things that you can ask for is loving what you do," Connie stated with a smile.