SHIRLEY, Maine — What do Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Chicago White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino, Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez and Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana have in common?
They are a few of the 25 Major League Baseball players who are using wooden bats manufactured in Shirley, 8 miles south of Greenville.
If you’re a devoted baseball fan and have never heard of Dove Tail Bat Co., don’t feel bad. Owner Paul Lancisi, who also operates Designed Living Kitchen Showroom with his wife, Theresa, said that he doesn’t mind.
“We don’t have any signage on the building,” he said. “But we’ve been here since 2004 and plan to be around for a long, long time.”
Thanks to the growing number of players using his product, Lancisi is busier than ever and hopes to expand the bat-making operation, including adding at least three positions at the mill. “We shipped 3,000 bats out of here all of last year, and we’ve already shipped that many this year,” he said recently.
New accounts are coming in steadily, including one from an independent minor league in the Ozarks for 150 to 200 dozen bats, he said.
Dove Tail Bats also are being used by players with the New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies and teams in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system.
American players aren’t the only ones racking up hits with Lancisi’s product. The bats are being used by professional baseball teams in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Japan.
“We’ve got an order for 500 we’re shipping to Japan this month,” he said.
So how did a cabinet-making business expand into baseball bats?
When Lancisi’s son Nick played baseball at Foxcroft Academy, he mentioned to his dad that the wood bats at the school didn’t hold up as well as he had hoped.
So Paul Lancisi, who was a top pitcher in the Men’s Senior Baseball League, custom-made some bats using furniture stock and a hand lathe. Once word was out that baseball players could buy locally made wooden bats, Dove Tail Bats became extremely busy.
“We put up an e-commerce site in 2009, and things just took off from there,” he said.
All this business has put a stress on the mill, which is why Lancisi hopes to expand the operation.
“My goal is to buy wood from local loggers so we can manufacture 100 percent of our product right here,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have the equipment to do that.”
The facility already has a serious space crunch with pallets of dowels stacked ceiling-high in a storage area waiting to be milled, sized, engraved and painted.
Lancisi, meanwhile, is trying to secure a Community Development Block Grant for $75,000 to purchase new equipment and expand the plant. A hearing on his application was scheduled Wednesday at the Shirley town office.
Lancisi also will be investing at least $75,000 of his own money into the venture, adding a 36-by-80-foot building to the complex for new machinery, he said.
Lancisi said that he’s hopeful that the CDBG application will be approved — and soon.
“I really want to get the machinery in place and hire more help,” he said. “This is quite an expensive business.”
Dove Tail Bat Co.’s Major League Baseball franchise fees and insurance run $30,000 a year. Enamel used on the bat finishes runs $200 a gallon.
There are also 36 other bat companies competing for big league business, Lancisi said.
“But we have some advantages by being small, including our customer service,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for a player to text an order to Lancisi and have the bats delivered in a week or less.
“When a Major League Player swings a Dove Tail Bat, the fans take notice,” he said.