Photo by Bill Ruth

ITHACA, N.Y. — The dream of all bat manufacturers is to have their company certified by the Major League Baseball (MLB). Ruth Baseball Bats, a new startup launched in May and based in Ithaca, is close to achieving this dream.

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After our first interview in June, we reached out again to Bill Ruth, founder and president of the company, to discuss its latest developments. Even if Ruth Baseball is only eight months old, sales were very strong in June and July and Ruth bats are more and more present at local practices, including the new baseball academy here in town, the Cayuga Lake Storm.

Related: New Ithaca startup, Ruth Baseball, takes swing at bat-making market

Photo by Bill Ruth

The most exciting development is that a few current and former MLB players are testing Ruth bats and the company is one step closer to getting MLB certified for the 2017 season.

Here are the 5 questions we asked Bill Ruth in an interview on Sunday; click on the one you’re interested in to see his answer, or read the entire story in order.

(Did we miss your question? If so, email us at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com)

1) You said that sales were very strong in June and July. How did you obtain this result?

2) You have a strong background in business and marketing, is there any advice you can offer to new startups so that their business is as successful as yours?

3) You said that the kids in the new baseball academy here in town – the Cayuga Lake Storm – ordered your bats and they are among the top players in their age groups in the County. Do you think the quality of yours bats will improve their game? Why?

4) It is really exciting that a few MLB players got your bats! Can you explain to the readers of the Ithaca Voice who are not familiar with baseball what it means to have your company MLB certified?

5) What’s next for the company? Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

1) You said that sales were very strong in June and July. How did you obtain this result?

“Sales were very strong in June and July because baseball is very seasonal. It’s usually quiet from August to the end of January and very busy in the summer. So after the launch on May 21, our business ramped up quickly and was great in June and July. We put a lot of hard work into the launch.”

Photo by Bill Ruth

2) You have a strong background in business and marketing, is there any advice you can offer to new startups so that their business is as successful as yours?

The main piece of advice I can offer to someone who starts a new business is: Do something you are passionate about because you are going to work for more hours and have more stress than if you were working for somebody else.

You invest far more time in the business, so you really need to do something that you love. I have always been passionate about baseball and my two sons are both passionate baseball players. They practice in Lansing with their coach twice a week all winter long.

Do what you love. Be prepared to put in far more hours than a regular job. Starting your own business is not a nine-to-five thing, but if you love it then it won’t ever feel like work.

Photo by Bill Ruth

3) You said that the kids in the new baseball academy here in town – the Cayuga Lake Storm – ordered your bats and they are among the top players in their age groups in the County. Do you think the quality of yours bats will improve their game? Why?

In the academy there are several age groups and, yes, there are some of the top players in the area. The coaches there really like to have the kids hitting with wood. Today’s baseball bats are mostly made of aluminum and composite and they do a very good job of eliminating the feedback you receive in your hands when you hit a ball. Instead, wood baseball bats provide players with instant feedback on their swing: if you hit one on the sweet spot you really know it, it feels great; if you mishit one by an inch or two you also know, because you get some feedback in your hands. Wood bats provide better feedback than the other bats.

We also offer a material that no one else is offering called ‘European Beech.’ Beech is a denser and more elastic wood than maple, which is what most of the bats today are made of.

When the kids train outdoors, they will notice an improvement in their performance and that’s because the wood is denser and translates more energy in the ball. The ball jumps a little bit more than it does with maple so it’s sent farther into the field. We also offer Maple and Ash bats for players who prefer a more traditional material.

Photo by Bill Ruth

4) It is really exciting that a few MLB players got your bats! Can you explain to the readers of the Ithaca Voice who are not familiar with baseball what it means to have your company MLB certified?

In order for major league baseball players to use your bats your company has to be MLB certified, meaning your name has to be on their list. I think last year they had about 27 or 28 companies on the list. It’s a very expensive process.

You have to apply, send in your application fee, then send them 15 dozen bats that they test each year. You also have to carry a large insurance policy that MLB mandates, so it’s a very expensive process but once your name is on the list it is a signal to the baseball community that you make a very serious baseball bat. We are making bats that are MLB quality right now and there is no question at all that our bats would pass that test, the only question is if and when we are going to be able to fund that next step.

We have been fortunate enough that a few MLB players are testing our bats and have expressed an interest given the quality and material of the bats. They are very interested in the European Beech. There has been some discussion about maybe taking the next step with some help from these guys.

We missed the 2016 MLB certification deadline, but we can do it next year or the year after. The fact that some major league baseball players have found out about the bats and have asked about it is really exciting for us. For now though, we are focused on selling to high school, college and independent league professional players.

Photo by Bill Ruth

5) What’s next for the company? Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Right now we are just coming into the sales season. We are partnering with some up-and-coming young companies that are in a similar stage in their life. We are focusing on bat manufacturing, selling as many bats as we can but also on getting the word out about the bats. We hope that everybody who gets the bats will like them and tell more people.

Our business is beginning to grow, so we’ll see about this bat certification plan as it’s a pretty big step. The MLB players just got our bats, the bats literally landed on their porch on Friday, so we have to give them some time. If all goes well hopefully we’ll be sitting here with a bat certification a year from now.

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