backroads max bat

The World Series brought the 2019 baseball season to a close, but many baseball fans get through winter thinking about next year — signing free agents, trades, or the prospects of their local team.

Minnesota is a baseball state. It has more amateur baseball teams than any other state, somewhere over 300. It tops all states in the number of American Legion baseball teams. The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer league where top college players are scouted by the pros. And, of course, the St. Paul Saints and the Minnesota Twins. (We also have some claim to the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.)

With that attachment to baseball, should we be surprised Brooten, Minn. is home to MaxBat, which makes 30,000 to 40,000 bats annually?

MaxBat was founded by Jim Anderson of Minneapolis, who made bats in his basement as a hobby. Glacial Wood Products of Brooten, the largest wood-turning company in the United States, had experience making bats. Paul Johnson, who operates MaxBat, said they wanted to go into bats as a business. They teamed up with Anderson and a new company was formed.

Their bats are used all over the world. The first homerun hit at Target field was by Jason Kubel using a MaxBat. Current major leaguers swinging MaxBat bats include Wil Myers of the San Diego Padres, and Max Muncy and Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While having major league customers speaks to the quality of the product, Johnson said that half of their business is amateur ballplayers … which makes Minnesota an excellent place to be located.

Their bats are made out of Rock Maple (which is predominant), Yellow Birch, and Northern White Ash. To customize a bat, they need to know what model, length and weight is desired.

“Then we have to choose the right species and the correct weight piece of wood,” Johnson said. “We have to weigh all our wood when it comes in and sort it accordingly.”

Lengths of wood are stacked like firewood in the manufacturing room. A computer-operated lathe turns out the desired product. Stain is applied in a separate area. Customers have their choice of color combinations.

The combination of Anderson’s idea and Johnson’s company has been a winning one. And its rural Minnesota location even has an ag connection. Johnson said that all the waste from the bats — the shavings and the dust — goes to a dairy farmer.

MaxBat has a showroom for bats and accessories along Highway 55 in Brooten. Contact information and more detail can be found at their website, www.maxbats.com