Some of baseball's most important implements are manufactured in a small workshop off Industrial Parkway in Plain City.

Some of baseball's most important implements are manufactured in a small workshop off Industrial Parkway in Plain City.

The Phoenix Bat Co. has been turning out rock maple and white ash bats for more than 10 years. In the past year, the company's workshop has been a highlight stop on the Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) bus tours of the community.

"When we first moved up here, we started with a couple people at a time coming through, and now it's busloads of people, and it can be kind of hard to fit 60 people in our showroom," Phoenix Bat founder Charley "Lefty" Trudeau said.

The business is now located at 7801 Corporate Blvd. In Plain City, but Trudeau began turning baseball bats on a lathe while restoring houses in Old Town East. After several years of playing 19th-century-style baseball with members of the Ohio Historical Society's Ohio Village Muffins, he was approached about fashioning a few vintage baseball bats to add to the team's authenticity.

"Those guys, you'll never find a better group of people," Trudeau said. "They have a blast playing, and they exemplify the spirit of what baseball's all about."

Through word of mouth, Trudeau's bats began to grow in popularity, until the woodworker had to decide between restoring houses or making baseball bats. Phoenix Bats now produces about 13,000 bats a year, ranging from vintage replicas and personalized gifts, up to bats for Major League players such as Vladimir Guerrero, Jake Fox, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Billy Butler.

Other bats are donated to the American Patriot Program, which supports the families of fallen military members.

General manager Seth Cramer said the company puts the same amount of effort into each bat, whether its intended for Progressive Field or the local park.

"We hand-grade each piece of lumber that comes in," he said. "The quality of product that the Major Leagues gets is the same as any other bat we make."

Part of that process involves a Locatelli wood lathe, an Italian instrument that takes the sections of maple and ash through three cuts, Cramer said. At 3,600 rpms, the machine shapes and sands each bat in about two minutes. The sawdust generated by the process ends up as bedding for a Bucyrus farmer's cattle, while scrap wood ends up firing machinery at a couple businesses on Industrial Parkway, Cramer said.

Once each bat has been cut to specifications, production manager Joel Armbruster dips and paints each of them, or runs them through a second machine that laser-etches the company's logo onto the barrel of the bat. With the company's machinery, the manufacturer can design bats down to a quarter-millimeter, Armbruster said.

Trudeau said that as Phoenix Bats has grown, he has also seen businesses sprout up and down Industrial Parkway.

"We've been here at this location since 2003, and when we first moved up here, it was all farms and fields," he said. "The road wasn't even completed."