Batter up: B.R. businessmen and former MLB players thrive with bat business

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WGNO)-- Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence are two LSU grads who lived the American dream. They played in the majors, but their post-athletic career is what brought them the real success.

Both found themselves sidelined and back at LSU in 2004 with their trainer Jack Marucci.

Marucci had a knack for hand-crafting bats for his 8-year-old son and his neighborhood friends, and that's when Ainsworth and Lawrence decided to take a swing at a sideline business. They teamed up with Marucci and began a bat company, Marucci Sports. Twelve years later, they are now the number one supplier to the MLB.

At the start, Ainsworth and Lawrence didn't pay themselves, nor did they have any money for marketing dollars.

"Being a former player and opening a box of 12 bats and only three or four were good enough for games, we wanted to make sure when we send a box of bats to a player every single one of them is good enough for a game," Ainsworth said.

A name built on consistency and craftsmanship, Lawrence and Ainsworth went all in, even securing their own wood supple to set the new standard of excellence in the pros.

The pros loved their bats so much, some of them even became part owners in the company: David Ortiz, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Chase Utley, Ryan Vogelsong and Aaron Hill are all partners.

Marucci produces about 1,200 bats a day, and about 800-900 make it to the boxes.

"We hand-sand, we hand-paint. About 16 sets of hands finish every single bat and every person along the way has the ability to throw a bat out if it doesn't match or meet up with the Marucci standard," said Lawrence.