Here’s how the Marucci baseball bat biz went from the backyard to the big league

Marucci became the biggest bat company in the MLB by partnering with players instead of paying them as spokesmen.

March 9, 2020

Yesterday, the baseball bat company Marucci sold to the investment firm Compass for $200m. 

Marucci started out as a backyard hobby project. But by partnering with players instead of paying them for promotion, it became the biggest bat-maker in the big leagues.

It started with a case of accidental entrepreneurship

Gino Marucci fell in love with wooden bats when he was a kid. Back in 2002, when Gino was 8 years old, his dad Jack tried to find one for him.

But bat companies didn’t make any that were short enough, so Jack decided to make one himself. With an $80 lathe, Marucci began carving bats in a shed in his backyard for fun.

Bat-making remained a hobby until 2 injured MLB players training with Marucci — Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence — swung Marucci’s bats and realized they could become a big business.

So Ainsworth began recommending Marucci’s bats to other major leaguers by word of mouth, and in 2009 he co-founded Marucci Sports.

Then, Marucci’s success was powered by player partnerships

Other businesses treat players like bat-swinging billboards, paying them to promote their bats. 

But Marucci instead partnered with players in the design process (before the 2009 World Series, Marucci and Chase Utley co-designed a bat for use against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera).

This led Albert Pujols, Utley, and other all-stars to voluntarily promote Marucci bats. Eventually, 25+ players invested in Marucci as co-owners.

So without paying for any sponsorships, Marucci soon toppled Louisville Slugger’s 100+-year reign as heavy hitter: Marucci is now the No. 1 bat brand in the MLB, used by more than 40% of players.

Under the new ownership, Marucci’s leadership team will remain in charge, but the company will expand to international markets like Japan and South Korea and roll out new products.

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