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superior bat co orginal



Superior Bat Company

Chattanooga, Tenn.  |  Chesterfield, Ind.

The Superior Bat company was started up in 1920 by Garnett Beck, brother of Zinn Beck, a Major League ball player that played with the St. Louis Cardinals, from 1913-1916, and the New York Yankees in 1918. The brothers opened a factory in Columbia, South Carolina, where Zinn was playing in the minor leagues from 1920-1925, and Garnett started turning out laminated bats. In 1923 the Zinn Beck Bat Company moved to Greenville. The company was sold in 1927. In 1930 Garnett Beck sold a patent for $1,000., to the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. to strengthen bats with a glue process. For the next ten years Garnett worked as a foreman for Louisville Slugger.

Beck's patented process produced bats that were laminated, instead of being made of one piece of wood. A laminated bat is composed of four strips of ash and one of hickory, glued together under great pressure and then turned and sanded into shape like any other bat. The center section was ash, and had hickory on each side. The heavier, stronger hickory wood forms the handle and the core of the laminated bat with the ash glued around it to form the barrel.

Because of a major league rule change requiring bats to be made of one piece of wood, in 1940 Hillerich & Bradsby did away with the glue process, which eliminated Garnett's job. Garnett Beck bounced around until 1951 when he was back in business making bats for the newly formed Joe Engle Bat Co. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The company went out of business four years later. Beck then went to work on Engel's chicken farm for a short time.

Leaving the chickens behind, Beck returned to Louisville and opened a small factory on Wilson street. For the next five or six years, he sold every bat he could turn out to local distributors. Inflation and competition got the best of him. He couldn't afford to automate. While H&B turned out about 5 million bats a year, Garnett Beck and his Superior Bat Co. produced one every seven minutes on his hand lathe. By then he was in his early 70's and decided to open a little shop in his home in Chesterfield, Indiana, around 1969. Because of his age, and the soaring price of wood, the Superior Bat company went out of business in 1971.


Spring is here, and the crack of the baseball bat will soon fill the air. It's an especially sweet sound for Superior Bat Co., a Jamestown company tucked away in an old factory that makes wooden baseball bats under the brand name A-Bat.

Jamestown's Superior Bat Co. started making bats in 2003. Grace Wheeler runs it as a business separate from Superior Wood Turnings, which is operated by her husband, Doug, and his business partner, Shane Goodwill. That company makes chair and table legs for the furniture industry, among a variety of other wood products. Here, weighed wood billets are stacked on a shelf before they are turned into baseball bats.

Bat production started at the suggestion of one of Superior Wood Turnings' lumber sources. It was a welcome opportunity to diversify as the furniture business and wood turnings started to move offshore and BAT MAKING was the logical next step.

Before long, the factory was making 500 bats a week, including for major leaguers like Gary Sheffield, Rafael Palmeiro, and Curtis Granderson. Granderson once played for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves, in nearby Erie, Pa., on his way to the MAJOR LEAGUES and a glorious career.


Bat making starts with cylindrical pieces of wood, known as billets, that weigh 80 ounces to 107 ounces. Superior bats are typically made of maple or birch. Its ash supplies have dwindled because of the destruction caused by the emerald ash borer, and much less demand. The bat is weighed a few times through the process, to ensure it is correct down to the ounce.


Superior stopped supplying major league players a few years ago but has found a niche making baseball, softball, youth, fungo, and award bats for less famous customers. As of the 2018 season, the Superior Bat Co. factory produced about 100 bats per week.


From 2018 through 2021 end A-BAT found itself in a vastly different market environment with the onset of COVID-19, with many more bat companies including some category killers, coupled with dislocation with a key sales representative. Early in 2022, The Wheeler family sold the company to an entity in South Carolina which struggled with the competitive nature of the wood bat business.


Then, a few months ago the Red Eye Elephant Group LLC a company controlled by the Kreindler family purchased the intellectual property, trademarks, and other materials to breathe life into a stellar brand in The Wood Bat Business. The Kreindler family has 20+ years of deep experience in the baseball hard gear space and runs the successful brand MPOWERED BASEBALL which has an international footprint in the manufacturing and distribution of many categories of baseball hard gear and accessories. The iconic Joseph Kren Bat Co. is also owned by Red Eye Elephant Group.

A-BAT re-launched with JUSTBATS.COM initially and has plans to grow the brand as quickly as possible and restore it to its former glory.

The raw materials will come from the best maple, birch, and ash-growing regions in North America. Quality and customer service will always be the top priorities.

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