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Marucci as Bat Man: Great Oak (Bats)

From Little Acorns Grow

By Shlomo Maital


   There are two major lessons we learn from the story of Jack Marucci and his sports equipment company. Lesson One: Just do it – start small, create value, make a prototype…and see what happens. Lesson Two: Even if you create a great huge global company – keep doing whatever you were doing in your day job, if you truly love it. You don’t HAVE to become a tycoon/manager.

     Lesson One: In 2002 Marucci’s little boy Gino, 8 years old, needed a baseball bat. He wanted a wood bat, but no company made wood bats for kids, only for adults. Kids’ bats were all aluminum. Marucci had learned how to use a wood lathe in high school. So he bought a used lathe, got some maple (best for bats) and made a bat for Gino. It took a few tries, but he soon got the idea. Soon Gino’s friends wanted wood bats too. So Marucci made them ones. Eduardo Perez, the son of Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinal baseball player Tony Perez, got one. He told his dad. Perez in turn told Albert Pujols, future Hall of Famer, about the bats..and Pujols loved them!   Soon Marucci was in the bat business, producing high-quality maple bats, with obsessive attention to quality, for Major League baseball players. Eventually his company expanded into other types of equipment, with two retired ballplayers as partners. Marucci Maplewood bats are used today by more than 35 per cent of all the players in Major League Baseball!

     See a need? If you can – make a prototype. If it’s great, who knows what will happen.

     Lesson Two:   Marucci has a day job, as Director of Athletics at Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   He loves this job. Despite the success of Marucci’s bat company, he has decided to keep his day job, and still holds an interest in the sports equipment company.

       So, what do we learn?   If you see a need, see if you can satisfy it, preferably with your own two hands. Amazing things may follow if your product is truly great. And if you have a day job and truly love it, hang on to it and let your partners build and grow your business.  


Innovator: Visualize! It works!

By Shlomo Maital

Jake Arrieta Jake Arrieta

   What can one learn about innovation from the New York Times Sports section?

Well, it turns out, a great deal. Take for instance Chicago Cubs’ talented pitcher Jake Arrieta.   He just won his 20th game, first pitcher in the Major Leagues to do so.   And he did so even though the Cubbies, as fans call them, are not THAT strong a team, last I looked they were 7 games behind the leading team and not likely to make the playoffs.

   Jake Arrieta practices a powerful technique known as ‘visualization’.   Before you tackle a task, start a company, implement an innovation – visualize it. REALLY see it, in every detail.   Go through the motions, second by second, picture yourself as, say, Steve Jobs, announcing Macintosh in 1984. (He rehearsed that short talk, in which he introduces the Mac as a person, many many times, with a coach).   REALLY see it. Then, when you actually do it, it will be familiar, comfortable, you’ll be at ease, and perform at a very high level, like pitcher Jake Arrieta.

   Arrieta has a 20 wins, 6 losses record, with a 1.88 earned run average (fewer than 2 earned runs per game). Here is how he describes his ‘visualization’ technique:

   “You don’t think about something for the first time the day you do it. You think about pitching in the playoffs; you think about pitching in the World Series. And if you don’t, you should.” Arrieta pictures himself pitching on game day, the day he is scheduled to pitch, he seems himself pitching against the nine opposing betters, one by one, he strategizes, he throws his sinking slider, his fast ball…. Again and again.

     I am trying to apply this. I visualize myself in class, in a lecture hall, and lately, in front of a camera. I picture myself talking. I see my gestures, I see the audience, every detail, the water glass, the lectern….   You know it is working when you have a feeling of ‘déjà vu’, hey I’ve been here, done this, before, on the actual day.

     You can ‘visualize’ long range too. Think ahead backward. Picture where you want to be in 10 years. The room, the situation, the people around you, your team, everything. Picture it in detail. Maybe even draw it.   Then work backward. What are the many things you need to do to make it happen.

   Try it!   It works.

Kansas City Royals (Baseball) Send a Message

By Shlomo Maital


Most of you readers probably do not follow American major-league baseball. It’s a slow game, complicated, a game can take six hours to complete (the 18-inning game between San Francisco and Washington, longest in post-season history) and there is almost no physical contact (except when players slide into second base or home plate).

   This year, the Kansas City Royals are the team to watch. And as in all aspects of life, there is much to be learned from baseball. For 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that plays in a huge ‘media’ market, spent $235 million on its players!   In contrast, the Royals spent less than half that, about $92 million.  They ranked  only 19th in spending.  Yet, the Dodgers were eliminated and the Royals are going to the World Series, winning decisively in four games (out of seven) against the Baltimore Orioles, in the American League finals.  KC could well be the best team in baseball.

   How did they do it? By, as Steve Jobs loved to say,   “think different”.

   KC Royals hit the fewest home runs of any team in major league baseball this year. That alone should eliminate them. But, they stole more bases than any team and got many many singles. What’s the strategy?   Patience.   Winning games one single run at a time. Winning close games with singles. This was the Royals’ manager’s strategy, and he stuck to it, and built the team based on it.   He had to. If you cannot afford to pay the big bucks that home run hitters get, you have to go for less sexy singles hitters, and speedy base runners, many of them young Latin American players.

   Kansas City has not been in a World Series since 1985, almost 30 years. Well, they’re back!   And I’m happy, because they prove that big-time sports are not solely a matter of money and budgets.   And yes, again, the high-spending Yankees failed to make the playoffs. How great is that!

From KC, we learn — patience, creativity, persistence, resilience, and above all, believing in yourself.  They believes — and are on the way to the World Series. 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2020