The off season has been a quick one and I couldn’t be more excited for the season to start up again. After participating in the Arizona Fall League I returned home in November and immediately started working out and preparing for this upcoming season. I’ve been working on fine tuning all the aspects of game that will help me succeed at the next level. I have been training at New Jersey Sports Advantage where they have cages, weights, and a track so I can get everything I need done there. My off season has exactly 2 weeks left as I just found out a couple days ago that I was invited to the Seattle Mariner’s minor league mini camp which will start up on February 15th. I will be departing for Arizona on the 14th ( my girlfriend is not very happy about the date they chose to send us out there as that is valentines day). After thinking about it and trying different models I decided I will start off the season swinging the Viper JH5 model. I tried it out last year and I like the way it felt in my hand and the barrel it has. I’m hoping for good things this year and I will be reporting back once Spring Training gets under way.
I’d like to point out I just received an email from “the boss” asking me where his blog is for today…
We’ve all heard the line ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’, and that’s the reason for my post today. We all have things, and more importantly people, in our everyday lives we all take for granted and I wanted to dedicate this post to my dad (who happens to also be my boss) and simply say, thank you.
For those of you who don’t know the story of how Viper Bats got started I’ll give you the nutshell version to catch you up to speed. Growing up I was always good at sports but baseball was my favorite and just so happened to be the sport I thought I was the best at. Junior year in high school you start to realize that if you want to play at a higher level scouts care about how you hit with wood bats, not your rocket launcher known as a BESR metal bat. With this knowledge it got both me and my dad looking more into wood bats and wood bat leagues to play in. Being from the Pacific Northwest in tiny Skagit Valley we quickly realized there weren’t any wood bat leagues around so we did the next best thing and made our own, the Skagit Valley Vipers.
Once fall ball started a family friend who played independent ball suggested we get bats from one of the guys he played with. Originally we started purchasing team bats from him and as the season progressed one conversation lead to another. Next thing you know a semi pulls up with a lathe, few skids of wood and Viper Bats was born. If you’ve ever seen the Cadillac commercial for great things being built in an American garage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE58LskfRG4) you can add Viper Bats to the list because that’s where it all started.
Aside from “claiming” I was in charge of product testing, my role in the business was building and maintaining the website. In hindsight, being interested in making webpages and being able to make them back in 2003 was a great combination but it was still a minor part in the grand scheme of things. The best part about maintaining the website was I could still do it from college while my dad put in the work so off to college I went. Not only did he have to learn the art of actually making a wood baseball bat (sidenote: don’t ever ask him to swing one), he also had to establish the business side of things. He didn’t have a guide book or fancy education on what it takes to make a successful business, he just had the drive and passion to make it happen.
Skip ahead 3 years, I come back home from college with no degree and really no profound career path to speak of. However, I did come back to a fully functioning company that had now become my father’s full time job. To this day I can still remember the look on people’s faces when he told them he made wooden baseball bats for a living. Seeing as my job was still the website I decided to enroll in some web design classes at the local community college and started working for the business. It started with running shipping packages to the postage store between class and baseball practice, and when baseball finally ended it progressed to printing out orders, sanding the occasional bat, and customer service.
Year by year we continued to grow to what we are today. From moving out of the garage to an actual shop, to hiring our first employee, to seeing our bats on TV in the hands of major league baseball players it’s been an amazing experience. Looking back I don’t think I knew what to expect. Did I think at all that it would be my job in 10 years? I’m sure I thought it would be nice but I’m not sure how realistic it was but thanks to my dad he made it a reality. It’s remarkable to be a part of what he’s created from the ground up and to be fortunate to have a full-time job doing something I love and I owe that all to my dad.
I know it hasn’t always been the easiest having to navigate the lines between boss and dad but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Without you I don’t know where I’d be today and I just wanted to say thank you everything you’ve taught and done for me.
PS. This still doesn’t give you a pass for stealing MY pens.
Hey there everyone, I’m Chris. I’m the guy you talk to on the phone, responds to your emails, ships your bats, occasionally misspells a few of your names on your bats, and now blogs. More or less, I’m the office guy who they don’t let out into the shop because I’ll break something. In this blog I plan on mixing in a little bit of everything; from customer questions and/or experiences to tips for players, and possibly even a few of my personal experiences.
So to get started, here’s a little background information on me. Writing scares me. Sharing my
thoughts with the public scares me more. I’ve been procrastinating for over a year on doing this but something clicked for me today. I’m not really sure what exactly it was, but the idea of leading by
example came to mind. I’ve been trying, without much success, to get this blog to take off and realized I haven’t been putting in the effort required to blame anything or anyone but myself. Well here I am.
My reason for making this blog was, and is, twofold.
First, I want to reach out to our customer base
and share some of our stories and points of view in an effort to broaden the customer experience, and in the process, shed some light on the people behind the business. Second, I want this to be a place anyone can go to read up on the life of minor league baseball players. Ideally I want this to be a place kids, adults, fans—anyone who’s interested in baseball, can get to know what life is really like for a minor leaguer baseball player. We all see the 40 man guys on TV living the life but no one knows the trip they had to take to get there. Some are drafted in the first round and have all the God-given talent to make it to the show in a few years. Some are in their 6th year in the minors fighting for a job and trying to still live the dream. Whatever their story, I want to share them with you, and I just so happen to have a job that allows me to do just that.
So here is to stepping out of my comfort zone and trying to make my vision for this blog a reality. Until next week I leave you with this question. What have you done today?