Titan Bat Company plans to build cages, retail shop, pro area

·5 min read

Jun. 11—They're going to bat for the community.

After all, Titan Bat Company, LLC just off of U.S. 35 at 2135 Stoney Pike, is the only enterprise of its kind for miles. And now, another $21,000 is being invested to expand the business with hopes of bringing more recognition to Logansport.

Approved by the City Council in April, the city stepped up to the plate to earmark funds for the company's indoor baseball and softball batting cages, monthly clinics, and weekly camps. Mayor Chris Martin said during a tour of the facility Friday that he is excited to see this type of progress.

The green turf and equipment for six batting cages have already been delivered. Installation is expected to wrap up around the end of summer, if not sooner. Then, Martin said he'd like to hold a community groundbreaking event so people could enjoy a unique opportunity just a stone's throw away in their neighborhood.

Logansport Parks & Recreation Department Administrator Jan Fawley is tossing around the idea of holding a community-wide baseball game. All players would be required to use a Titan bat, she said during the tour, which included various city officials as well as Logansport Police Chief Travis Yike and Logansport Fire Chief Rick Bair.

Company owner Trampas Young liked that idea, emphasizing how grateful he is for the path his life is taking.

As a child, Young whittled wood under the tutelage of his grandfather, Robert Winegardner, and uncle, Charlie DeHaven. One highlight involved the hours he spent hand-carving a small bat. Hoping to accomplish something that would bring a smile to his grandfather's face, he ended up being displeased with the result, so he pitched it in the trash.

When his grandfather learned of this, he immediately told Young to get it out and keep working on it. And that's just what he did.

Today, that small, dark brown bat is a constant reminder of hard work, dedication, and following through on plans that could end up changing a life. It also is a symbol of what it means to lend a hand and never be left behind.

Formerly the pastor of Logansport Church of Christ, Young led a Bible study group where the folks typically donated funds to help needy families. One particular Christmas, Young had saved enough money to purchase a lathe. However, he gave it all to support a family — both parents and all three children were deaf — so they could buy food, clothes, and other necessities.

But to his surprise, his mother had already purchased Young's Christmas gift — a lathe. And from that moment on, Young has been paying his blessings forward. Whether it has been making bats for his son, Baylee, or creating some for local teams, Young may spend up to four hours designing the bats by hand.

And it never gets old. It is a part-time profession as a full-time hobby.

It was this passion that caught the attention of Todd Stephens. Never interested in making bats, Stephens wanted to offer his support in a fundamental way — financially. So, he invested in the company, eventually leading to the duo becoming co-owners.

With the support of numerous friends throughout Cass County, Young and Stephens have been able to build their business, reaching customers from Indiana to Texas and beyond. Each bat is crafted with a person's specific needs in mind, from the hitting tool's length to weight.

Whether a Little League bat or one for minor league players, the custom-made, wooden equipment is created locally with the care and attention to detail that could only be achieved with a designer who knows his art.

At the start of the business, Young used wood from Cole Hardwood. But over time, he and Stephens decided to move toward a more baseball-friendly product. Now, they order 4x4 dowels of ash, maple, and birch from an upstate New York supplier.

With the acquisition of a CNC 80 Model TC 650 E Motion Cat, a wood-turning lathe, the owners insert a dowel into the system, press a button, and watch as the machine produces a freshly cut bat every three minutes. It shaves the wood at an average of 13 seconds per minute.

Other machines help shape the wood into the correct form and weight, sanding them so each comes out extremely smooth, said Young, adding that it takes at least two minutes to achieve the desired texture. Another machine notches out the ends of the bats to help evenly distribute the weight. In order to keep the personal touch, Young said each bat is dipped into paint — customers can choose colors from a vast assortment — and dried for up to 12 hours.

Then, three coats of lacquer are applied, followed by 24 hours of drying. Young said this process "helps make the bats harder."

The overall process makes "us just as good as Louisville Slugger," said Stephens, explaining that plans are in the works to become MLB-certified. The cost of certification with liability insurance could climb to an annual fee of $30,000. But he said it would be a way to expand the business and bring in more professional customers — they've already worked with former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon, who played for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, among others. Stephens said he hopes to submit the major league certification paperwork in February 2022.

Currently, Young said his company produces bats for Valparaiso's Hoosier Bat Company.

Eventually, Stephens said they plan to purchase that business so Titan could expand into new areas.

Before that happens, though, their focus is local. Along with the new batting cages, Young and Stephens will open a small retail shop adjacent to the ground-level cages as well as a pro-only area in the upper level of the facility. Stephens said this area will feature lockers with storage space for the players' bats and other equipment.

These are ideas that the mayor fully supports. "Indiana may be a basketball state, but our rural communities are baseball fans," said Martin.

Young agreed. "I take two weeks off from (his full-time job) at Christmas to hand-carve bats" because the demand is there. So overall, he said, it's obvious from the experiences of the last 8 years — they've hit a homerun with their company and it just keeps getting better.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150