Have bat, will travel. In the baseball world that means that if you can hit, you can go far in the game. As a power-hitting outfielder, Pete Tucci was dangerous with a bat in his hands and good enough to be a first-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996. He was on his way to a promising major league career when an injury prevented him from getting to his destination.
Tucci may not have reached the big leagues, but the bats he's been crafting just might. As the founder and owner of Tucci Lumber, the former Norwalk High School star is still swinging for the fences.
"Two years ago, when I set out to try to get back into baseball somehow," said Tucci. "I saw myself getting into the major league market. I always felt like I was missing something after baseball ended. Now, to be connecting with the game again, it feels good. This has my adrenaline pumping again."
Tucci is fully engulfed in his new passion, diving into the bat industry like Pete Rose used to dive into the third base. The former Norwalk High School star works six days a week in preparation for the upcoming baseball season. He's hoping to make 15,000-20,000 bats and get approval from Major League Baseball.
"I'm getting ready to send my applications in," said the former All-American at Providence College. "Hopefully, we'll get certified. I knew what my end product needed to be and what my end service needed to be, I just had to figure out the process to get there and that's what I've tried to figure out of the last two years."
Tucci, 36, has a distinct advantage over many other bat manufaturers who are trying to find their niche in the major league market. He was an elite player who ascended to a high-level in professional baseball. That gives him instant credibility with the power brokers in the game.
"The fact that I played baseball and I'm the one who is making the bats and the driving force behind every bat the goes out of here, really helps," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I've talked to a player or an agent and they tell me how refreshing it is to deal with someone who knows what they're looking for in a bat company," said Tucci.
Tucci Lumber tries to use the best cuts of maple and ash. He can provide his clients customer service far different than any on the market because as a former big-time prospect, Tucci knows what they want. But in the ultra-competitive bat industry Tucci needed something else to give his product an edge over other ones in the market.
"We steel burnish the bats," said Tucci. "It compresses the outer shell of the wood making it harder. There is no absorbtion of energy from the wood, so it's 100 percent transferred into the ball and it jumps off the bat. Nobody else in the industry steel burnishes their bats."
According to Tucci, several major league players have put in orders for his bats, including Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees all-star second basemen Robinson Cano.
"I've heard from numerous professional players after using our bats that 'this is one of the hardest bats I've ever used in my life,' that gives us confidence that we're making our bats better", Tucci said. "Cano has ordered some bats, hopefully he likes them. I'm pretty confident in the fact that he won't be disappointed."