Old Hickory Taking Aim with New-Style BBCOR Bats
Old Hickory, long known for successful wood-bat-making endeavors in MLB, took a unique approach to their reentry into the BBCOR bat market with the A1 and C2 models.
“We set out to create our own little niche and create something different,” says Travis Copley, Old Hickory spokesperson. “In the course of testing, the aluminum barrel tested out as good or better than the top-end two-pieces on the market now.”
So, the niche for Old Hickory in the BBCOR world has become the C2, a two-piece composite bat, but with an aluminum barrel and composite handle. “One of the things we learned really quick in sales numbers was our name in wood bats doesn’t necessarily translate to aluminum bats,” Copley says. “We wanted to make sure the performance level was above average from what was available.”
To make it happen, Old Hickory took a year off constructing BBCOR products and spent that time reconfiguring everything, from designs to alloys to manufacturing partners. The design of both the one-piece aluminum A1 and the two-piece C2 come with a lengthened barrel and ultra-balanced design to match.
By giving the two-piece bat an aluminum barrel — a highly uncommon design in the industry that also provides a unique ping sound for a two-piece — Copley says engineers used the composite in the handle to create more flex and barrel whip. The design comes seamless, without a coupling ring, so the entire product looks like a one-piece construction.
The solid one-piece A1 mimics the design of the two-piece without sacrificing anything on barrel size or length. Copley says to expect a little more balance feel to the A1. “While other companies push end-loaded bats and a balanced bat within a model line,” he says, “we came up with two models that meet those needs.”
Aesthetically, the bats retain a similar graphic design, with the $180 A1 featuring black with red and silver trim and the $250 C2 coming in white with red and silver trim. “They are from the same family of bats, but we wanted to separate the siblings a little bit,” Copley says.
Old Hickory first opened its doors 20 miles north of Nashville in 1999. The company started hand-selecting maple and ash from the northeastern United States and Canada and hand-finishing and hand-sanding bats to the specification of each player. From Charlie Blackmon to Mike Trout, Old Hickory offers a mainstay brand in Major League Baseball. The company wants that same reputation to blead to materials beyond wood.
Moving forward, expect to see Old Hickory play on the early success of the BBCOR line. “We like the feedback and response,” Copley says, “and as that continues to grow we are looking at a 2020 bat with our eyes down the road to something geared more to the youth market on the aluminum side.”
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb