A sunny early May afternoon in San Diego. Jack Kasarjian’s fortunes were about to change forever.
After a slow start to the season Sammy Sosa had launched two home runs the evening before at Qualcomm Stadium. The talented Cubs slugger had asked Kasarjian to make him six maple bats for the season during that year’s spring training.
Kasarjian had started his company X Bats in 1999 after watching his son and teammates enjoy using maple wood bats in their youth league. With no major bat company manufacturing maple bats Kasarjian decided to jump into the business.
Fast forward to 2002 with Kasarjian’s first big break. Sosa had hit eight home runs in April for a struggling Cubs team. But Kasarjian’s bats fate was changing. Sosa had his first multi-homer game on May 1st, the night before, in San Diego.
Then on that sunny afternoon in front of 30,000 fans in cavernous Qualcomm Stadium the fate of X Bats was settled. In the top of the fourth “pop!” Kasarjian’s bat sent one way over the centerfield wall. Then in the 6th another “pop!” Sosa had sent a ball towering into the left-center bleachers.
Four home runs in two days. All with Kasarjian’s maple X Bats. Sosa ordered five dozen more bats. Word spread. By the end of the season 78 big league players including Manny Ramirez were using X Bats.
Since that fateful day in San Diego, X Bats has been one of the leading wood bat manufacturers in the country with over 300 big leaguers using them every year. And those in youth, collegiate, and senior leagues using X Bats? They have the same wood of those MLB players' bats.
“We will not compromise the quality of the bats,” Kasarjian said. “We make major league wood for everyone whether the little leaguer or 65-year-old playing in the men’s league. We only make one grade bats and are the only company that does.”
Other bat companies make a variety of different grade bats only making the highest grades for the top major leaguers. This makes X Bats more expensive as the only bat company for anyone to get the highest possible quality bat no matter their level.
“We are not the cheapest, but we are the best,” Kasarjian said.
The high quality comes from an intricate bat making process starting with the forest. X Bats has 660 acres of maple forest in upstate New York- a climate that fosters trees perfectly suited for making bats.
Once in the wood working shop 20-year veterans of Ethan Allen furniture manufacturing use their skill to artfully craft X Bats. The wood is dried by a vacuum drying kiln to 8% moisture. Most bat companies dry their wood to below 3% but this makes the bats more susceptible to breaking when in use.
Every X bat is custom made for the consumer. Through their website a player can choose everything. From bat length and shape to engravings to wood type (X Bats offers ash, hickory, and birch, along with maple.)
Currently around 325 MLB players use X Bats, but they also have one of the largest selections of custom wood bats for youth. The bats have also become popular at the collegiate level. The Santa Barbara Foresters, one of the top summer collegiate baseball teams in the nation, use X Bats.
“The fastest way to hone your hitting skills in baseball is to use a wood bat,” Kasarjian said. “The problem with most wood bats is they are junk. It’s very expensive to produce a wood bat so companies cut corners and produce them at less than optimal quality.”
The Las Vegas based company ships their products across the country. And there are a wide variety of products. X Bats has become one of the top manufacturers of wood softball bats. Training specific bats, trophy bats, and other accessories are also available on their website.
X Bats are not cheap. But after that sunny May day in San Diego they have been the bats used by the best in the baseball business.
“We are not the bat for everybody,” Kasarjian said. “Somebody that wants to spend their time, energy, and passion at baseball and softball, we will provide the best quality wood on the market.”