Armchair photo tours: Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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Baseball bats for sale at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

Photos by Cheryl Landes

Whenever I have a chance, I enjoy going on factory tours. It’s interesting to see how things are made. During one of my cross-country drives, I spent a few days in Columbus, Ohio, and learned about the Phoenix Bats plant tours in Plain City, 24 miles away. The hour-long tours provide a glimpse into how baseballs are produced from start to finish.

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The shop at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio. This is where the plant tour starts.

Our first stop was at the design station. When a customer places an order, the designer uses computer software to create a design that meets the customer’s needs. The designs are saved so that whenever the customer needs to place another order, the consistency of the bats will not change.

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The design station at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

The bat-making process starts long before the wood arrives at the factory. It starts by selecting the wood at the mill. Selecting the right wood is critical in the quality of the bats. Phoenix Bats uses rock maple, yellow birch, and northern white ash wood.

After Phoenix Bats chooses the wood at the mill, the wood is cut into billets, long round cylinders, and shipped to the plant. Each piece is hand-graded for quality and weight.

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Billets waiting to be turned into baseball bats at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

The billets are turned on a lathe, which creates the shape of the baseball bats based on the designs from the computer-aided drawings. Phoenix Bats has the only lathe operating in the bat manufacturing industry. The advantage of using a lathe is that the wood is cut and sanded with incredible precision, and the specs will always be the same whenever a customer places a new order.

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Turning a baseball bat on the lathe at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

Then the bats are sanded and polished.

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A baseball bat going through the sanding process at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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A sanded bat at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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Bats awaiting the final touches at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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Billets and finished baseball bats at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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A custom bat made to order at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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My miniature souvenir bat from my tour at Phoenix Bats in Plain City, Ohio

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