This entry features the R.G. Johnson Company of Denmark, Maine, custom bat makers.
How I came across R.G. Johnson Co. was at an exhibit during Maine's largest agricultural fair, Fryeburg Fair on Tuesday, October 6th. I had spoken with Mr. Bob Logan, the sales representative. I had noticed that he had bats for sale at very reasonable prices, thus I inquired about the business. Bob had indicated as he gave me a brochure, to me that R.G. Johnson had a rich history in making bats for major league players. I was told that Bob's father, also named Bob, produces each bat by hand in the garage by their home. He also told me that the process of bat making is printed in the brochure.
I asked where the ash came from, specifically interested if it was Maine grown. Bob said that roughly 90% was indeed from the Maine woods, but a bit more is coming in from the neighboring state of New Hampshire. On following up, young Mr. Logan said that only the best ash is purchased to insure that the bats are of the highest quality.
I proceeded to ask if he made bats for major league players. Although they no longer produce for current players, R.G/ Johnson had contract for the
Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Philadelphia Phillies, and a fourth team which escaped him. I was quite impressed!
As we spoke, I noticed that there were maple bats, baseball bat wall shelves, a book case, and other bat related products, which I found very, very well crafted. It was obvious that the elder Mr. Logan was meticulous in his work and I surmised he loved his work.
We ended our conversation, I took the brochure home with me to peruse. The brochure provided information on bat making at R.G. Johnson. I will just say that the wood is sawn 40” by 3” and air dried for 1 year. Then the blocks are are made into round billets, are graded by the elder Logan, graded so only the finest grain is found to produce the bats. The billets are then air dried again for an additional year before production begins.
Logan then turns the bat to its final form on a lathe, brands them with R.G. Johnson label, then sands them. After sanding, the majority of the bats are are flame treated, bringing up the grain and hardening the surface of the wood. Both ends are then sawed off from the lathe and sands them smooth. The, bat length is stamped on the knob and dip coated twice in polyurethane varnish for its final finish.
There are many bat models from many former major leaguers to choose from including, Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Jim Rice, Ty Cobb, Yogi Berra, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, and many other stars of years past.
There you have it … how a bat is made by a small bat maker with a rich tradition. Unfortunately R.G. Johnson Co. does not have a website but they can be reached via mail at:
R.G.Johnson Ski & Sports
620 West Main Street
Denmark, Maine 04022
Phone and Fax numbers are:
Phone: (207) 452-2770
Fax: (207) 452-2675
Send email to email@example.com