The Beach Times

From Centerville to the Major Leagues: The History of Barnstable Bat Company
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, December 23, 2019

Barnstable Bat company

Do you want to take a small piece of Cape Cod home with you from your vacation?

One option is picking up a souvenir from Barnstable Bat Company, which makes both novelty bats and game-quality items that you can use in your baseball league at home.

In fact, many players in the Cape Cod Baseball League currently use these bats, and they have even made appearances in the Major Leagues over the years, making them one of the Cape's most famous exports.

Here's what you should know about the history of Barnstable Bat Company and the products available at its reclusive Centerville location.

The Beginnings

Barnstable Bat Company opened its doors back in 1992 when Tom Bednark decided to combine his love of baseball with his woodworking skills. A custom woodworker by trade, Bednark was taking in a Cape Cod Baseball League game one day when he declared that he would begin making and selling bats of his own.

When first getting started, Bednark exclusively made novelty bats and faced a bit of a learning curve. Over time, he improved his novelty bat creations, leading to players in the Cape Cod League asking if he'd consider making real bats for them. At that time, Bednark shifted his focus and hasn't looked back since.

Bednark believes that he can get higher quality wood than some of the larger manufacturers in the United States because he needs less material for his relatively small operation.

Within a few years, Bednark's bats had exploded in popularity, partially due to John Petkey winning the Cape League's batting title in 1994 while using one.

The evolution of Barnstable Bat Company didn't stop there, however, as it would rapidly reach heights that Bednark would never have expected.

Bats in the Major Leagues

Word of Barnstable Bat Company got around quickly, to the point where Major Leaguers started using them in 1995. Supplying bats for Major League Baseball is an exclusive club, as only 13 companies have ever received approval. Bednark was able to gain permission, however, leading to even more notoriety for his creations.

At its peak, Barnstable Bat Company was supplying bats to about 250 Major League players in any given year. In fact, well-known players like Manny Ramirez, Mo Vaughn, and Jose Canseco used Barnstable Bats at one point or another, and Geronimo Berroa hit 36 home runs using Bednark's products in 1996.

By 2002, however, it was no longer financially viable for Barnstable Bat Company to continue selling bats at the Major League level because the insurance costs became prohibitive. Bednark reports that liability insurance alone is $100,000 per year, and since Bednark makes every bat himself, it would be challenging to sell enough bats to keep up.

Bats Currently Available

Today, Bednark manufactures about 10,000 bats per year with his computerized lathe. All he has to do is load up a piece of wood, and the machinery takes care of the rest, ensuring that he makes every item to the exact specifications. The machine can make about 40 bats per hour, so he's able to turn out a lot of products on any given day.

Bednark makes most of his inventory for the Cape Cod League and little leagues around the country that use wooden bats, with many of the company's sales coming from places like Texas, Florida, and California. These items are also popular with softball and other recreational adult leagues.

Wood types used by Barnstable Bat Company include ash, maple, and birch, with fungo bats, youth bats, pony bats, softball bats, and tee-ball bats also being available.

If you have a special event that you'd like to commemorate, Barnstable Bat Company will engrave a custom bat for you, too. Customers commonly use these custom bats for birth announcements, but you can have them customized in a variety of different ways.

You'll likely have to order your custom bat before leaving on your Cape Cod vacation to ensure that Bednark can complete it on time.

Visiting Barnstable Bat Company

If you want to visit Barnstable Bat Company during your time on Cape Cod, you'll first have to find the place. You see, despite the business' success, the Bednarks run the company out of the walk-out basement of their house in Centerville.

The house is just north of Wequaquet Lake on Pleasant Pines Avenue. You can get there by exiting the Mid-Cape Highway onto Iyannough Road and then taking a right on Huckins Neck Road. You'll then take another right onto Pleasant Pines and find the home on the right-hand side.

When you get there, follow the long driveway around the back of the building and park near the blue shop. There's a sign marking the entrance of Barnstable Bat Company.

On most days, the company will have about 300 bats in stock, so you'll have a significant amount of inventory from which to choose. You can also pre-order bats on their website and pick them up during your time on the Cape.

Call Barnstable Bat Company ahead of time to make sure they're open before your arrival. If you're a baseball lover, you won't want anything to prevent you from visiting this Cape Cod institution.

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