While Major League Baseball and its players’ union squabble over how to salvage their 2020 season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Piscataquis County bat maker is continuing to expand his footprint in the sport.
Construction is under way at Dove Tail Bats of Shirley on a multipurpose building that will include an indoor batting cage and full gym and workout area. The six-week building project is expected to be completed by mid-July.
Dove Tail bats is one of approximately 35 bat makers certified by Major League Baseball, and its clients last season included National League Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby king Pete Alonso and fellow New York Mets all-star Jeff McNeil. This year’s early MLB orders totaled approximately 2,000 bats for the company before the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training and suspended major league operations in mid-March — forcing the company to pursue other markets.
The new 20-by-80-foot batting facility — and a full gym and workout area above it on the second floor — will be located at the front of the new building, which otherwise will be dedicated to the company’s cabinetry business.
The area will enable players interested in purchasing bats the chance to test Dove Tail’s different models or to rent the facility to get in a few practice swings.
“I did this just for our own use, but then I thought people could come in and demo our bats, then pick their model and order bats,” said Paul Lancisi, who owns the company along with his wife Theresa.
The batting cage, to be located on the outskirts of Greenville along Route 15, also may be a convenient option for baseball players in the area, whether residents of Piscataquis County or seasonal visitors to the Moosehead Lake region, given that the nearest similar facility is 75 miles away at Sluggers in Brewer.
“The big thing up here — and I’ve been sharing it with people from out of state that come by and buy firewood — is their kids who play ball out of southern New England can come here and hit and not lose anything,” Lancisi said. “And if they’re stuck at camp for a weekend in the rain, they can come down here and hit and throw.
“Or if a bunch of kids just want to come in and work out and can be safe and stay away from each other, they can have some fun.”
While organized baseball around the country has been stalled by COVID-19, Dove Tail Bats has been able to keep its workforce employed in part through relationships developed around the globe.
“We sell a lot of bats to Taiwan — they’re consistent every month — and our online orders have been steady every week,” Lancisi said. “We’re at 50 percent of sales from last year with no baseball, which is phenomenal when you look at the bottom-line numbers.”
Dove Tail also has found a market selling personalized trophy bats to organizations around the country for high school seniors who didn’t get to play their final year of interscholastic baseball or softball this spring.