- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - You won’t find its product in Major League Baseball, although at least one major leaguer might wish you could. And from a volume standpoint, Louisville Slugger has nothing to fear.

But if you’re looking for a personalized, custom-made wood bat for your youth baseball player, or a trophy bat for a player of any age, the Terre Haute Bat Company can fulfill your requests.

It’s a small operation - actually it’s the wood shop in the backyard behind Brian Ogsbury’s house in southern Vigo County, if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen the factory - but it turns out a good product. A couple of well-known names would probably testify to that fact - if they were allowed to use the Terre Haute Bat Company bats in competition, that is.

The first bat was for Briley Ogsbury, now 13, and was made back in November of 2014.

“I wanted to see if I could do it,” said Brian Ogsbury, whose day job is with Duke Energy in Plainfield, but who is an avid woodworker in his spare time, “so I made one for my son.”

When Briley’s bat was finished, the first pitches he hit were thrown by a current major leaguer. Briley had been a batboy at Terre Haute South, and he’s taken hitting lessons from A.J. Reed.

Reed was gifted a personalized autographed bat of his own from Terre Haute Bat Company, but he’s not allowed to use it. There’s a certification process for bat companies wanting to get their product to Major League Baseball, and it costs $65,000.

“There are more than 300 bat companies, and only 33 have been certified,” Ogsbury said this week. “There’s also a liability issue; insurance costs for a major league bat company are pretty steep, to defray possible lawsuits from a bat breaking or splintering and flying into the stands.

“I have to carry insurance myself,” added Ogsbury, who so far has produced approximately 200 bats - and, he said while knocking on wood, he’s never seen one of them break, although he’s sure a couple of them have.

The natural tie-in with the wood-bat summer league in town is also not possible, Ogsbury said, because the Prospect League has its own official bat company - a disappointment to several players in the league who have Terre Haute Bat Company lumber but are not supposed to use it in games.

They’ll be using Terre Haute Bat Company bats at the Carly Rice Memorial Tournament this weekend at West Terre Haute, however. Ogsbury was finishing his bats for that event early this week, glistening green bats with each player’s autograph and a commemorative pink ring just below the trademark.

Which brings us to another facet of Terre Haute Bat Company products: they’re gorgeous. Pick a color, select a trademark or a design, add your autograph - they’ll all be there.

“It started as a hobby,” Ogsbury said. “I had the lathe and some of the tools I needed, so I bought some wood (he works in maple, ash, birch and European beech, most of it from the northeastern part of the country) to see if I could do it.”

He contacted as many bat companies he could to get advice.

“Some of them were pretty tight-lipped,” he said, but others were helpful, one of them explaining to him how to set the drill to take a cup out of the end of the bat, for customers who order them that way.

Ogsbury also knew that some players used bone to rub their bats, and he did that for a while until he learned that a stainless steel rod would do the job - compressing the outer 1/8 inch of the bat’s surface to make it denser and help it resist moisture - and he could use the rod while the bat was turning on the lathe.

About half the bats he makes are for game use, the other half for trophies and awards.

Shane Abrell, a former coach and athletic administrator at both South and Terre Haute North who is now an assistant baseball coach at Plainfield, purchased a set of bats this spring to be given to each of the Plainfield seniors, and former North coach Shawn Turner had a special bat made recently to commemorate the career of T.J. Collett. Ogsbury has also made bats for newborns, he said, making the bats the same length as the baby and putting all the baby’s vital statistics on it.

Abrell, by the way, is part of the Terre Haute Bat Company, helping with website (thbatcompany.com) and social media duties. Another part of the operation is Wade Biggs, who does the laser engraving. But Ogsbury does all the wood work himself, and he doesn’t have a big supply of bats on hand.

“Every one is custom made,” he explained, “so once I’m done, it’s out the door.”

Briley still has his bat, and daughter Brynn, 11, also has one - although Ogsbury hasn’t done softball bats.

There’s really only been one downside to the new hobby, Ogsbury said. Wood shavings.

“(My wife) Shelly gets upset,” he joked. “She chases me around with the vacuum cleaner when I come in from the shop every night.”

___

Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, https://bit.ly/29QCK3t


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