Chandler bats, making America's pastime better

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Think about buying a baseball bat, and you probably think of a mass-market sporting goods store, or maybe one of the long-time manufacturers. But a Norristown company is changing how America hits!

RxSport produces custom-made bats for a growing number of players, from high school through the major leagues.

Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino is a satisfied customer, but so are students who hope to be drafted by a pro team some day.

Owner David Chandler was manufacturing furniture a few years ago when he heard a bat maker talking about the move from traditional ash bats to maple.

Well-versed in maple's qualities, Chandler knew he could produce a maple bat that would compete in the marketplace.

Today, his company makes no furniture but thousands of bats each year. He will make an ash bat if you insist, but most customers choose maple.

Chandler says it has a bit more "flex" and therefore is gentler on a hitter's hands and wrists.

Everything RxSport does is according to precise standards.

Chandler has a relationship with suppliers coast-to-coast, who understand that he's looking for only the highest-quality wood.

The wood he accepts is processed in his own kiln to a precise moisture content, when ready, a billet is worked by a small team of craftsmen into a custom bat. Whether an aspiring high school player or a big-league all-star, each client gets a bat made precisely to his specifications, in terms of length, weight, etc.

The process begins with a lathe programmed to cut the general shape, followed by further shaping with hand tools and then hand-sanding. It's given the desired finish after that.

At a retail price of $175 each, Chandler bats are generally purchased one at a time by amateurs. Major leaguers usually order six to 12 at a time. Chandler says that a bat, given proper care, can last for years. But, being machined from wood, there can be no guarantee.

He says it's not unusual for a single bat to be used tens of thousands of times without failure. Chandler bats are not sold in stores. They are also not advertised. Word of mouth gets the company plenty of business.

There is room to grow at the Norristown factory, and Chandler envisions a batting cage on-site one day which would allow a customer to come in, try bats, place an order, and ultimately test a bat without leaving.

Any adjustment could be made while the customer waits. For now, the order process starts with a call to a toll-free line, 1-877-497-2287.

There is a website, http://rxsport.com from which you may e-mail a message, no direct web sales yet.

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