Carolina Clubs, Major League Quality Bats For Players of All Types
|Once again, Once again, our staff at Pointed Magazine is dedicated to bringing its readers the hottest products for the Year 2005. This time we are starting a brand new series of features titled “Inside the Clubhouse” where we go behind the scenes of Major League Baseball teams and look at what some of the players need to get ready for a game. In this feature we will look at one of the best wooden bat companies to hit the professional game in the past 15 years, the Carolina Clubs maple and ash model bats.
For those who have not heard of the Carolina Clubs Bat company of South Florida, then you may be missing one of the most consumer friendly companies in the baseball business. Their attitude is 100 percent customer service and nothing less. When you call Carolina Clubs, co-founder Thomas Lane will likely answer the phone and personally help you with your bat order. If you were to call the others, who knows what you might get.
The first serious thoughts about Carolina Clubs formed in the family car in 1992 during a drive home from Orlando where George Lane said they had been invited to watch wooden bats being made. “On the way home Kevin Lane said, —˜Do you think you could cut baseball bats?’ I looked at him kind of funny because I was kind of insulted,” said George, a retired carpenter. “‘Of course I can make them.’ And he said, —˜Well, do you think we could do it?'”
Now we turn to 2005 and look at where Carolina Clubs is today and they have used its great relationship with it’s first client, Ryan Klesko, now of the San Diego Padres to expand its resources to 119 Major League players including the 2005 Home Run Derby champion Bobby Abreu, who has made Carolina Clubs his bat of choice for the past several seasons.
After our staff had an initial conversation for well over an hour Lane talked about the family bond Carolina Clubs has and why their maple and ash bats are far superior to any bat on the market. “It all starts with the initial piece of wood. We just do not accept any type of wood for our bats in either maple or ash. It is hand selected for our pro models and if we do not like it than the wood can become one of our batting practice “BP” models, which by the way is still a great bat,” said Lane. “You know what you are getting from us. We don’t have bats exploding at ridiculous rates while others do because we focus on quality not quantity.”
When we first received our bats many of our bat tests had been on maple bats in the past hitting tests, this time Carolina Clubs let us see some of what the quality they make in both bats. After all ash is where the wooden bat started and some players prefer not to hit with a big headed maple bat.
So what’s the difference between ash and maple? The choice is in the player.
Ash has been the preferred wood of choice for players and bat makers for decades because it is lightweight and it is flexible. But it is quickly losing market share to maple, virtually non-existent in the bat market 10 years ago. The popularity of maple bats came on when Barry Bonds started using them regularly. Ash also tends to have more flexibility when it comes to hitting the ball, “more pop” as we should call it.
If you are choosing an ash bat, many players must remember that these bats take longer in the drying process and with Carolina Clubs they use more material. Never the less, you will get you a bat that will last and the coating applied to these bats was designed by a chemist strictly for Carolina Clubs, so no wonder these bats come looking like a showroom finish for a car on each bat. You have the Porsche of bats and the Bentley of finishes, but the prices do not reflect that. This might be one of the reasons why they produce an average of 25,000 bats per year. Their bats are for everyone. From the Summer wooden bat leagues to the pro stock bats at the Minor League level, Lane has developed a line of bats that caters to all players.
One thing that our readers must know about Carolina Clubs is their selection process for the wood. Since they do not purchase wood from a mill, they own it, they have the option of deciding which wood they are going to make into a Pro Model or what becomes a BP model bat strictly only used for batting practice. Many large companies are forced to produce so many bats that they often fail to look at the best pieces of wood for their clients.
“When we make P 72’s we produce 50 bats but we are only happy with 12 of those,” said Lane. It is part of our quality controls that my father instilled years ago on this family.
Part of the commitment to quality customer service comes from the policies instituted by MLB, but a lot of it comes from the service that Lane and his family found long before the policies of the MLB.
In 2003, MLB imposed a $10,000 annual fee for any company supplying bats to professional ballplayers, essentially eliminating many companies from the market. Before the fee was in place, there were more than 70 bat makers supplying MLB players. This year, there are between 20 and 25 companies. But perhaps the biggest deterrent facing bat makers is MLB’s requirement that companies carry a $5 million liability insurance policy.
In our testing we found that out of the 480 balls we hit with each model bat during the last 30 days, the Maple delivered the deepest balls in the field with an average of 285 feet and the ash delivered an average of 281 feet but was a bat that delivered more un-catchable line drives as well. We found that the quality of the bat really is reflected in every model not just the maple or the ash. What you really will find when purchasing one their bats is their personality toward the customer. You are not just another order, your bat is just as personalized as Bobby Abreu’s would be, but your service is even better. We would recommend Carolina Clubs for two features, service and quality.
For more information on the prices and the bats featured in our review and how you can order the bats used by 119 Major Leaguers, contact Carolina Clubs directly at (561) 753-6948, or visit Carolina Club’s website at www.carolinaclubs.com