When you combine America’s favorite pastime and quality American craftsmanship, you get American Batsmith. Owner and operator, Jacob Huff, spent a great deal of his childhood playing baseball and making bats out of broken shovel handles. Today, American Batsmith specializes in designing and building distinct bats for each player—a bat that will become “an extension of your hands.” We are excited to feature Jacob as a Mark Maker.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jacob Huff. I’m originally from Nampa, Idaho, however, I moved to the Salt Lake Valley in 2003. I’m married and have four children—two teenagers and two under ten years old. My oldest is my daughter and the three youngest are all boys. I’m a pretty simple person at heart; it doesn’t take much for me to be happy. I’m generally happy by nature. There are a few pastimes that I guess I can call hobbies, namely the following: I love baseball… period. I’ve been in love with the game since a youngster. I guess it stuck with me because it was the first thing someone told me I was good at, so I took that to heart and have always been in love with the confidence the game gives my ego. Baseball hasn’t always been good to me. I’ve seen the ups and downs of the game, but have learned many life lessons from playing the game, running teams, and coaching inside the game of baseball.
How did American Batsmith get started?
Many years ago, across the span of time during the late 80s and early 90s, I was a young boy who would play baseball anytime, anywhere, and dreamed about playing on the highest level. I believe I’m not that different than many boys who love the game and probably think the same way. I grew up in a great home full of love and gospel. Money wasn’t one of the abundant things we were blessed with, but we had each other and we are a tight family to this day. I would swing old, oversized, wood softball bats and when they would break, I didn’t have the monetary funding to purchase another. So I made a few bats out of broken shovel handles. I would whittle a knob on the end, sand them with whatever we could find, and play the game. I had many cousins and we played together with these bats constantly and they were some of the finest times of my life. Carefree, creative, and active.
Later in life, I stumbled upon my father-in-law and a relative trying to make a bat on a lathe. I didn’t know what I was looking at initially, but the bat soon took shape and I was taken back to my childhood and the shovel handle bats we had our best memories playing with. I believe it was at that point that my interest in building bats became a budding passion. A week later, my brother and I found ourselves at that same lathe and created our first bat, which we still have today.
Pictured above: The first American Batsmith bat
How long have you been making baseball bats and how did you learn?
We have been making bats for almost two years now. We did some hand turning initially but ran into some equipment problems. My brother and I are tech geeks, so setting aside the hand turning was a priority for us as we wanted to use our computer skills to build a bat. We felt a better bat is made with precision software and cutting capabilities. Companies cannot mass produce bats with a hand lathe, which we plan on in the future. Once we secured the financing for our CNC lathe, we spent two days back east training on the machine so as to get comfortable with producing bats. Needless to say and after many user errors, we are pretty darn good at making a superior product with our CNC machines.
Why did you choose “Be Distinct” as your company motto?
We realized that going into the bat world (as we call it), we needed to single ourselves out and be different. The motto “Be Distinct” is really what we are. Our vision is to celebrate the player and who they are, rather than the player celebrating the bat company. With that, we work with the player to fit the player’s needs—geometry of the bat, colors, weight, balance, wood type, and custom engraving. So this means that when the player is in the batter’s box, they are swinging a bat that is built for, designed for, and created for that individual to celebrate their baseball talent and creativity. The bat provides peace of mind to the player as he shows the world that his bat is an extension of himself. Thus, when we complete a bat for the player, we label them as distinct.
Have you had any famous customers?
We’ve had some customers in the lower level minor leagues. We are not yet MLB-certified, but I know of big names who know about us. We sell many bats to local talent who have MLB contracts. We have sold bats as far as Korea, Australia, and Canada.
Do you have a favorite bat from your collection?
I have to admit: I have not made a bat for myself. But, I do have a signature design we created as we were the first company in the world to incorporate full color with pine tar design. My favorite is a Gray bat with a pine tar burn we call Pine Scar. It’s absolutely eye-catching and distinct.
Who’s your favorite baseball team?
I actually don’t have a favorite team I follow. I follow the game as a whole and love every team equally.
What do you consider success?
I’m a little weird about this; maybe a little unorthodox. Many people calculate success with how much money is made or how big you are as a company. I’m a person who looks for fulfillment in the tasks and events in my life. I refer to bat-making and owning American Batsmith as my “fulfilled time” job, not my full-time job. Finding fulfillment in your occupation is what I consider success. Finding that passion through fulfillment needs to come first, money later.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a passion project?
I would recommend keeping a written record mapping out your passion, plan your work, and work your plan. Using a high-end journal like what Rustico produces is vital. My first was an idea book with pictures, scribbles, thoughts, frustrations, dreams, and designs. Those journals are very personal and sentimental to the project. The reason they are sentimental is because they set affront or exhibit your raw, honest passion and energy toward the project. I often look back at that Rustico journal and can’t believe the mental calories branded into those pages.
What do you hope to instill in your community?
Being Distinct is celebrating each person and who they are. American Batsmith provides stewardship for players to express who they are through a baseball bat. We want the player to be proud of who they are and have the self-confidence to be okay with being different. Community is about bringing different folks with different strokes together as one in a communion of respect. In a round-about way, we do that.
What upcoming projects/collaborations are you looking forward to that you can tell us about?
We did a major collaboration with Rustico as their professional team of idea-makers and designers helped build the first-ever Hitter’s Log by a bat company. It’s a saddle brown, leather-bound journal with very specific baseball-oriented design and verbiage to help the serious player track themselves in their careers. These journals aim to help elevate players by collecting personal data from their own minds, written in their own hand. It’s very unique; we call it a digital detox. We’ve sold many of them and look forward to further collaboration on a new design in the future. We strive to be functionally different, which means we produce products that give ultimate functionality with personality. I believe we achieve that distinctly.
A big thanks to Jacob for speaking with us about the passion behind American Batsmith and his love for baseball and quality craftsmanship. Be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram. To learn more about custom projects and our capabilities, see this page.
Do you have a Mark Maker in mind? We’d love to hear how they’re making an impact in their community. Let us know here.