Best. Bat. Ever.

An unexpected gift was recently sent to me by way of my family’s book store here in New York City. This is what it looked like in the packaging…

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…and this is what I saw when I unwrapped it:

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Here’s a closer look:

cook_and_son_bats3.jpg

Um, wow?

(That ball, by the way, which I placed in the photo in order to give you a size perspective, is Robinson Cano’s grand slam from 9/28/09 at Yankee Stadium.)

Here’s an even closer look:

cook_and_son_bats4.jpg

As you can see, the bat was “branded” with my name — along with the word “ballhawk” — in Scrabble tiles. For those who don’t know, I used to play competitive Scrabble (check out my old tournament results) and still visit the NYC Scrabble club on occasion. So yeah…very cool.

Here’s a photo of the bat’s trademark…

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…and here’s one more shot that I took of the bat in its entirety:

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You know who made this bat?

A friend, father, Mariners fan, and fellow MLBlogger named Todd Cook.

(I ran into Todd and his son Tim several times this past season. You can find a photo of us in this entry from the day that Randy Johnson SHOULD HAVE won his 300th game in Washington, D.C.)

Todd sent me some photos of the bat being made.

Here’s the wood…held in place on the machine…in its original cylindrical form:

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Here’s the bat starting to take shape:

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Here’s Todd working on it:

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Here’s his son Tim holding the near-finished product:

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Here’s how Todd initially thought of arranging the lettering:

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Here’s how his final design took shape:

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As for my signature, Todd grabbed it from a photo of a ball that I’d signed for my Watch With Zack clients on 7/26/09 at Yankee Stadium. Check it out:

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My handwriting is much neater on paper. You should see how nicely I write “Zachary B. Hample” when I sign my checks. Baseballs, however, are another story. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times in the past here on the blog: if you’ve never tried to write anything on a ball, you’d be amazed at how tough it is. Not only is it round, but there’s nothing to lean on. But I digress. The fact is, the bat looks in-CRED-ible. Here’s a little of what Todd later said about it in an email:

Let me give you a little background. As you might notice, I make wood baseball bats. I’m also sort of an “idea” guy. I get an idea and I dwell on it until I make it happen. When I noticed all of your Scrabble comments/occurrences on your blog, I just got this vision of a Scrabble-themed bat. I kept thinking about it for a month or two. I had no clue if you’d want such a bat or think it was just weird, or what. But I decided I had to make it just to see how it would turn out. Once I made it, I liked it. Still, I felt a little strange sending it up your way because I didn’t know what you would think about it...I’m glad I got the [Scrabble tile] values right. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ve ever played Scrabble. I went online and downloaded pictures of Scrabble tiles. Then I realized there were different values for different languages. But I felt pretty sure that I had the right values.

And that’s pretty much it — the story of one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received. Again, here’s the link to Todd’s blog. (He recently posted some entries about older games.) If you have a few minutes, check it out…and if you’re lucky, you might run into him and his son at a game next season.

10 Comments

Zeee,

I have no words – Scrabble or otherwise – to communicate what a great, creative object the bat is! Biiiiiig props to Todd for conceiving and fashioning it – and to you for inspiring it. It is a MARVELOUS, LIFE-AFFIRMING GIFT!

P.S. Tell Todd he could probably (if he doesn’t already) increase his business by fashioning custom-designed bats for bat-addicted folks to buy for themselves – or as special gifts for birthdays (You’re a hit with me. Happy Batday!) and other celebrations.

That is AWESOME. And for some reason I know how hard it is to write on a baseball. Apparently when I was about 5 years old I wrote on a baseball, declaring my love for Derek Jeter. My dad found the baseball and even though I am 100% Mets fan, I keep the Derek Jeter baseball in my room.
But that really is an awesome bat. I like how he ended up arranging the letters. In the first one it looks like it says Hample Hawk Zack Ball. That really is the coolest personalized bat ever.
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

Very cool gift Zack!

Great job making the bat Todd!

My old blog was addingabseballs.blogpsot.com but I will be making a mlblog!

My new blog is http://accumulatingbaseballs.mlblogs.com
I can’t wait until the 2010 season starts so I can become a rookie ballhawk!
Did you start looking at schedules yet Zack?

Zack, signing a ball is definitely tricky. But your signature looked pretty good on that ball. I thought about asking you to sign your contact card at a game, but it seemed weird and I figured it would be a more interesting surprise if you saw your signature on the bat without ever giving me your signature.

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments about Zack’s bat. Glad you enjoyed seeing it. And…a “Life-Affirming Gift”? WOW – that’s quite a compliment. Thanks, bradfordbatboy. And, Zack, you’re welcome (for affirming your life). ;-)
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.com
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

Wow, Z. What a cool looking bat! Now all you need is a ball. : )

I suspected you were batty.
This confirms it!

Zack…Todd has got some serious skills-WOW..I love that bat. Now I want a Ranter bat…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

BRADFORDBATBOY-
Wow…thanks. Yes, I agree, it’s quite a bat.

ELLIE-
That Jeter story is too funny! Thanks for sharing/admitting that.

DAILYMLBROUNDTABLE-
Thanks for checking it out.

ACCUMULATING BASEBALLS-
Yup, I’ve taken a few peeks at the schedule…already thinking of a few places I need to visit in 2010.

TODD-
Well, this was definitely quite a surprise.

VEGANTEMP-
Hmm, yes, where can I get one of those?

BOODLEHEIMER1-
Cute.

RANTER-
You should see if you can commission him to do one for ya.

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