|Industry||Baseball, Manufacturing, Sports equipment, Sporting goods|
|Founded 📆||June 1, 2016|
|Founder 👔||Gary Malec, Mark Malec, Cody Silveria, Lars Anderson|
|Headquarters 🏙️||Redwood City, California|
Area served 🗺️
|Gary Malec, Mark Malec, Cody Silveria, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish|
|Products 🎛️ 🧴|
|Owner||Gary Malec, Mark Malec, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish|
Number of employees
Birdman Bats is a privately owned sporting goods manufacturing company located in Redwood City, California. They specialize in manufacturing birch and maple baseball bats. In addition, they also make baseballs, bottle openers, hats, hoodies, keychains, raglans, snapback hats, stickers, t-shirts, softball bats, and whiskey glasses. As of 2020, it is one of thirty-five licensed baseball bat suppliers for Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players. It is also a bat supplier for baseball leagues throughout the world, including Australia, China, Japan, and Korea.
Birdman Bats was founded on June 1, 2016 by four individuals. The founders are brothers Gary and Mark Malec, former college teammate Cody Silveria, and former professional baseball player Lars Anderson. Gary and Mark moved to San Francisco, California in the early 2010s and started their company in the garage of a warehouse. Ryan Kalish, a former teammate of Anderson’s with the Boston Red Sox, is also one of the other co-owners of the company.
Background and history
Gary and Mark Malec grew up playing baseball in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey and would later move to San Francisco, California. Gary would move there in 2010 and Mark would follow in 2013. In May 2011, they started their boutique baseball bat company in their backyard and opened a warehouse in the industrial section of South San Francisco, California. They turned the garage of the warehouse into a workshop and would make bats for themselves using power tools. Gary Malec is the Chief Executive Officer of this Bay Area startup company, blending his passions of baseball and mathematics into a business. Mark Malec is an artist who received a scholarship to attend Savannah College of Art and Design and is also a former professional baseball player. Cody Silveria is the Director of Operations and also one of the co-founders. Gary and Silveria played baseball at City College of San Francisco in 2011-2012. The Birdman Bats manufacturing crew are referred to as the Birdmen. Sam Bat opened the door for Birdman Bats when it entered the bat manufacturing industry and competed with Hillerich & Bradsby.
Gary Malec produced the first bat on his hand-wired lathe in 2011 for his brother Mark, who at the time was playing college baseball and struggling at the plate. Months earlier, Mark drew a cartoonish half-man, half-bird sketch in an art class. Gary would recover Mark’s notebook and find the doodle, which he would make into a sticker and put onto the first Birdman bat. That drawing sparked the company name, Birdman Bats. The logo is meant to serve as a reminder to play baseball like a kid for the love of the game. Mark helped the Gloucester County College Roadrunners win the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III World Series in Tyler, Texas by scoring the winning run, completing a 4-0 sweep. He said that it was the most fun he ever had playing baseball. Mark batted over .400 for most of the season, finishing with a .392 batting average. That sticker would become the company logo, creating brand recognition around the game. Lars Anderson is a former professional baseball first baseman and currently a co-owner and marketing manager of Birdman Bats. Anderson joined in 2016, when he was in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization at the time. He liked the logo immediately.
Gary Malec met Lars Anderson two years before meeting his Boston Red Sox teammate Ryan Kalish. Malec met Anderson and Kalish through friends and they started a band called Daytime Nightlife. Kalish invested in the company in 2018 and now he and Anderson oversee day-to-day operations. Anderson was minor league teammates with Manny Ramirez and the twelve-time All-Star was quickly drawn to the colorful bats. Malec landed Ramirez as his first MLB client after the two were introduced to each other through Anderson. Malec soon began making bats for his son, Manny Ramirez Jr in 2016. Malec would travel with Ramirez while he was playing in Japan with the bats and the two are now close friends.
The Tulsa Drillers, the AA-affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, began using Birdman bats in 2016. On November 15, 2016, Gary Malec and Birdman Bats received a cease and desist letter from the office of the Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred just shortly after they were first used. Malec saved the letter in an email because they were starting to get recognition. Birdman Bats was certified by the Major League Baseball Commission as an official bat on January 19, 2018. In order to get certified, Birdman Bats went through the following process. They paid the legal licensing fee to the office of the Commissioner and then they obtained a hefty blanket insurance policy. First, two test bats are sent to the PFS TECO Corporation Testing Laboratory in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. Those bats are sent to a one twelve-hour day test course, where they show you how to perform what is known as the slope-of-grain test. These are the ink dots you see on all major league bats. This test ensures that the safety of the wood is good. To meet sanctioning requirements, bat manufacturers must be recommended by a Major League team. Gabe Kapler, who was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies at the time, helped Birdman Bats become an official MLB bat. Birdman Bats are now one of thirty-five bat manufacturing companies officially licensed by MLB. Malec submitted Birdman Bats to the World Baseball Softball Confederation and received approval in 2016. This allows the bats to be used in the European Baseball Championship, the Olympic Games, the World Baseball Classic, and professional leagues in Japan and Korea. In addition, Birdman Bats are also licensed in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, the Confederation of European Baseball, and the Australian Baseball League. The first Birdman bat used in a Spring training game was by 2015 World Series Champion Terrance Gore.
Since officially becoming a company on June 1, 2016, Birdman bats are used by prominent MLB players like Hunter Pence, Yasiel Puig, and Chad Pinder. Pence has a customized coffee themed bat with Luigi on the knob of the bat. Puig has made the bats famous on many different occasions and stages. On May 28, 2018 at Dodger Stadium, in a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Puig used the first Birdman bat in a Major League regular season game. On September 14, 2018 at Busch Stadium, in a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit two home runs. The next day, in a 17-4 win in St. Louis, he would hit three more home runs. Yasiel Puig’s five home runs set a Major League Record in a twenty-four hour span and tied the record for the most home runs in two consecutive games. His consecutive multi-homer games made him the fourth Dodger batter since 2000 to accomplish the feat, joining Shawn Green, Adrián Beltré, and Cody Bellinger. After batting .429 (nine for twenty-one) with seven runs scored, five home runs, nine runs batted in and a 1.690 on-base plus slugging percentage from September 10–16, Puig was named NL Player of the Week for the third time in his career. The first Birdman bat used in a Major League postseason game was by Puig on October 4 at Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the 2018 National League Division Series, where the Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-0. The first Birdman bat used in a World Series game was by Puig on October 24 at Fenway Park in Game 2 of the 2018 World Series, where in the fourth inning Puig singled off of David Price to drive in Manny Machado with the go-ahead run.
Manufacturing and production
Gary Malec used to carve bats by hand, which would take upwards of an hour. Malec bought a makeshift lathe off Craigslist in 2010. This was until he launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2010, and successfully funded it. In 2016, Birdman Bats became a registered limited liability company in order to get the kickstarter campaign up and running. At the time they were represented by LegalZoom. The funds were used to purchase a computer operated lathe that makes bats, a laser engraver, and a healthy stack of wood. On January 1, 2017, they became a C Corporation and are now represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The bat manufacturing process starts in the Birdman “Bat Cave” as a thirty-seven-inch round billet. Before placing them on the lathe, the Birdmen mark the centers on each end and label them. Malec writes G-code on a computer for bat programs, which is then plugged into a CNC machine, which prints the bat in five minutes. In other words, this digitally chooses the bat model. The machine holds the billet in place, making them spin and turn as they are being carved into bats. It cuts the wood and shapes it into a bat leaving it fairly rough. Cody Silveria marks up the wood and the computer-numerical device machine sculpts bats from larger pieces. This dictates the exact dimensions to carve. The Birdman Bats crew sands away rough edges by hand. They start with sandpaper and finish with stain. Birdman Bats have two CNC machines, which allow them to produce one-hundred and fifty bats a day. The laser engraver adds words and images. Adding tape, ink color, the Birdman Bats sticker, and the option of cupping the barrel end are some of the finishing touches. Birdman Bats are a unique brand of baseball bats for many reasons. Professional baseball players like the customizable options and the fact that the bats are made of birch and maple. These are the top two wood choices and were both fairly new at the time. Birch and maple wood are produced in opposite climates. The birch comes from a wood mill made in Quebec and the maple comes from New York, the biggest supplier of split-wood maple. New York is warmer which makes maple grow denser and in Canada birch thrives in the cold. Birdman Bats uses birch because it has the hardness of maple with the flexibility of ash. Birch was introduced to professional baseball in 2006, and it is growing more popular among professional baseball players because it is both lightweight and durable. They also like the look, feel, and sound that comes from the bat. Manny Ramirez endorses the company and loves the consistency and lightheartedness of the bats.
Lars Anderson spread the word in Germany, Japan, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lars would bring the bats into clubhouses and would get feedback from the professional athletes. Demand rose quickly. MLB currently allows five colors: black, gray, brown, burgundy, and natural, with the exception of Holidays and Players Weekend. The bats offer interesting aesthetics, personalization and customization. This can range from fungo bats to softball bats, and mounted trophy bats. Birdman Bats offers premium MLB-grade bats for players and coaches at all levels from youth to adults, including high school, college, professionals, and now softball. Birdman bats come in multiple colors and are a deviation from the standard black and brown bats that have been around since the American Civil War. One hallmark in their industry is the natural variability of products, which nearly allows Birdman Bats to eliminate waste. Gary Malec’s team takes a responsible approach to using every piece of wood delivered to his shop. Heavy chunks of wood are created for kids and light pieces are made for coaches. For bat manufacturing, if a piece is too heavy, it becomes a trophy bat and if it is too light, it becomes a fungo. They donate large amounts of sawdust to animal shelters because it is good for animal bedding and makes good soil.
MLB clients who use Birdman Bats
- Jorge Alfaro
- Albert Almora
- Jake Arrieta
- Greg Bird
- Alex Blandino
- Willie Calhoun
- Brandon Dixon
- Kyle Farmer
- Maikel Franco
- Kyle Hendricks
- Rich Hill
- Cole Irvin
- Drew Jackson
- Mike Leake
- Gerardo Parra
- Hunter Pence
- Chad Pinder
- Yasiel Puig
- Edwin Ríos
- René Rivera
- Tyson Ross
- Pablo Sandoval
- Austin Slater
- Ross Stripling
- Bradley Zimmer
Former MLB players
- John Baker
- Chase d'Arnaud
- Brandon Dickson
- Tim Dillard
- Pedro Guerrero
- Ryan Kalish
- Jeff Keppinger
- Alex Mejia
- Melvin Mercedes
- Will Middlebrooks
- Manny Ramirez
- Madison Younginer
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Category:American companies established in 2016 Category:Baseball bats Category:Companies based in Redwood City, California Category:Company stubs Category:Manufacturing companies established in 2016 Category:Redwood City, California Category:Sporting goods brands Category:Sporting goods manufacturers of the United States Category:Sports equipment makers Category:Sportswear brands Category:United States manufacturing company stubs
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