A Tillsonburg, Ont. baseball bat maker is headed to the major leagues
TILLSONBURG, ONT. -- When Trevor Oakes quit his factory job at Toyota to focus on making baseball bats full time, he had a five-year plan to get make it to ‘the show.’
He expedited that process, accomplishing his dream in three years.
"ABO Baseball recently got approved as an MLB bat supplier," says Oakes. "We received a letter via email last Tuesday from commissioner Rob Manfred's office and it congratulated us on making the cut."
After speaking with CTV News Tuesday, he was jumping in his truck and heading to Madison, Wis. He needs to be there Wednesday for mandatory MLB wood training.
Birch wood waits to be carved into baseball bats at ABO Baseball in Tillsonburg, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Brent Lale / CTV London)
Already selling his bats worldwide, he thinks getting approval for big league players to use his bats in games is a difference maker.
"It will scale us to be a top bat maker in Canada and in North America," adds Oakes. This will help gain exposure, and then people will know who we are."
He gained local notoriety last year, when IBL London Majors slugger Cleveland Brownlee had a few custom bats made for charity. One of them was a bat painted like Spiderman which was sold and the proceeds donated to the Children's Health Foundation.
This week, a brand new lathe arrived at his shop. It will help him produce his maple and birch bats in six to eight minutes, and the robot will be able to mass produce, and replicate a large number of bats
"Instead of making 10-20 in a day, we can do that 10-20 in a couple hours. Our goal is to punch out 50-100 in a day."
Oakes started ABO Baseball in a shop at his house. He named the company after the initials of his kids.
He's since opened a facility in Tillsonburg housing his shop, batting cages, and an indoor MLB simulator. He says he's the only one west of Kitchener who offers this program.
"You can simulate games, play in MLB parks, and break down player mechanics. It's fun," says Oakes.
In just three weeks, he'll pack his bats and head to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training. He'll set up tables at the stadiums, and show off his product to teams and players.
He's dreaming big with the ultimate goal of making his Tillsonburg workshop a tourist destination, "The goal is to be a mini-factory and a bat producer which will put our name on the map."
"People can come hit and see the MLB bats that are made right here in this little factory."