SPORTS: Bat manufacturer no great fan of baseball

by Tim Ellsworth, posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 (13 years ago)

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Before his current job as president of Old Hickory Bat Co., Chad Lamberth didn’t like baseball.

No, that’s not strong enough.

“I hated baseball,” Lamberth said.

He thought the game was boring, and he dreaded the idea of sitting through nine innings. Football and racing were more in line with his tastes.

But despite his initial aversion to the sport, over the past six years Lamberth has grown to tolerate the game. With players like Derrek Lee of the Cubs, Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Andruw Jones of the Braves and Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox using his bats -– just to name a few -- it’d be difficult not to be at least somewhat interested.

Lamberth’s company in White House, Tenn., has grown considerably since he and his partner, Jon Moyer, began manufacturing baseball bats in a one-car garage in 2000. Now the operation has six full-time employees and is housed in a 1,500-square foot building that’s already too small. Plans are in the works to move to a bigger facility. Lamberth is a member of Temple Baptist Church in White House.

“I felt from the beginning that God had brought us together,” Lamberth said about his partnership with Moyer. “I just want to honor [God] in everything we do in the business. Without Him and His guidance, we wouldn’t be here.”

Moyer had a background in the business, and had connections with Baltimore Orioles first baseman David Segui, who in August 2000 became the first Major League player to use an Old Hickory bat.

The business has grown primarily through word of mouth. Segui talked to other players about the bats, and before long orders started trickling in. Now Old Hickory is one of the top five bat companies being used by Major League players.

“He basically got us started,” Lamberth said of Segui.

In every order he fills, Lamberth includes a Gospel tract with Mickey Mantle on the cover. The message inside chronicles Mantle’s last days, and tells the story of how his former teammate, Bobby Richardson, led him to Christ.

“I’m not an evangelist-type person,” Lamberth said. “I’m more quiet and reserved.”

But Lamberth still feels compelled to share the Gospel with people. One day in a Christian bookstore he came across some Gospel tracts when the idea hit him.

“That’s something we can do,” he thought.

As Lamberth has become more of a baseball fan in recent years, he and all his employees have the Major League Baseball Extra Innings package, so he often flips through the channels, looking for players who use his bats. He also follows the box scores regularly so he can keep up with his players’ performances.

Still, if Lamberth comes across a game with nobody using an Old Hickory bat, he quickly changes the channel.

“To sit down and watch a baseball game, just to be watching it –- can’t do it. Just cannot do it,” he said. “I hate saying that, but I can’t sit here and lie about it.”

He admits he has learned a lot more about the game since he started making bats. And he has a deep appreciation for the sport’s strategies and history. But he knows his love for baseball isn’t necessary to make his company successful. To Lamberth, God is responsible for that.

“I try to honor God through this,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”


Tim Ellsworth writes a weekly column for BPSports, on the Web at www.bpsports.net.

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