Tucci considers his company a start-up—he expects his 2013 revenues of $630,000 to leap to $900,000 this year—but is up to the task of battling the much bigger and more experienced bat makers, such as Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the iconic Louisville Slugger, as well as his fellow newcomers. Other small businesses making MLB-aapproved models: Axis Bats, Carrera Sports, Phoenix Bats, Trinity, B54 and Max Bat.
"It made sense to go into an industry I knew more about, even as limited as my knowledge was about making bats," he said. "Being a former player, I knew what the end product needed to be; I just didn't know how to get there."
Indeed, a bat is not a bat. Although all 38 companies currently approved by MLB to sell bats to its players—up from 32 last season and 23 a decade ago—purchase similar blank billets mostly from the same lumber mills in upstate New York, Pennsylvania and southern Canada, "a lot of it is what you do with the wood once you get it in your door," Tucci explained.
"My process of burnishing the bats with a hardened piece of steel ensures that each bat is as hard as it can possibly be," he wrote on his company's website. "This process compacts the outer layer of wood, diminishing fraying of ash bats and reduces seam marks and dents embedded in a maple bat. The result? A ball that 'jumps' off the bat because, essentially, the wood doesn't 'give.'"
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Every season, in order to be approved by MLB, bat makers have to submit samples that meet strict specifications, but it's the hitters who are the final arbiters, another advantage for a former ball player like Tucci. He's become a familiar figure at spring training camps and inside clubhouses for such teams as the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels throughout the season, where he understands when players talk about troubles with their swings. He suggests some subtle customizations to his bat, such as narrowing the barrel to slightly adjust the weight.