For the first time, you can own your own authentic Ryan Braun baseball bat.
The Brewers slugger and the maple bat company Sam Bats unveiled a new line of professional-quality lumber that will be available soon at retail stores, plus a charitable initiative aimed at getting the bats into the hands of kids in need.
The bats feature a new “RB8″ logo — a combination of Braun’s initials and uniform number — and come from the same stock of maple that goes into his game bats.
“For me, it comes down to performance,” Braun said. “I tried other bats, and the other ones weren’t up to par with Sam Bat. Overall, it’s about comfort, feel.”
The “RB8″ bats will feel just like the ones Braun uses in games, though Major League rules say that his can’t bear the new logo. More than 60 percent of big leaguers are now using maple instead of the traditional ash, according to Sam Bat.
Sam Bat founder Sam Holman is donating 150 of the “RB8″ bats, plus 10 more for every home run Braun hits over the rest of the season, to Good Sports, a non-profit organization that strives to increase the physical activity of disadvantaged kids and has donated more than $3.8 million worth of equipment to youth sports and fitness programs since 2003.
Good Sports has launched an initiative called “10,000 swings,” which aims to gets 10,000 bats to youth baseball players around the country.
“We’re really putting the pressure on Ryan, because he’s going to force us to give 10 more every time he hits a home run,” Holman said.
“That’s definitely good pressure,” Braun said. “It’s just great to have an opportunity to give back, especially to those who are less fortunate. Sports helped me mentally and physically become the person I am today and it’s nice to be able to give kids who are less fortunate an opportunity to use sports as an outlet and mature.”
Some of the donated bats will end up in Wisconsin, according to Good Sports’ Christy Keswick.
“We’re trying to partner with these manufactures to get equipment into the hands of kids who are less fortunate and would not otherwise have the opportunity to play,” she said. “We do the due diligence with all the organizations to determine the organizations with greatest needs. There are a lot of organizations in many cities that have needs.”
Braun figures he was about 13 years old when he first tried a wood bat.
“As a young player, your goal, your dream, is to get to the Major Leagues, and the sooner you can start using a similar product to what the Major Leaguers use, it’s an advantage,” Braun said. “Being able to use a wood bat that’s the same quality as Major Leaguers use, it should be all the more enticing. I think it will help younger players develop.”
“It’s an instrument,” Holman said. “To Ryan, it’s not just a stick.”
Sam Bats has more information, plus extras like downloadable ringtones and desktop wallpapers, at www.getrealbraun.com.