On an industrial lot in Oceanside, Long Island, Peter Curti, 55, stashes some of the most-coveted ash, birch, and maple in the world. Five years ago, Peter knew little of billets, wood weights, or running an online business. He did know he'd retired early from a career in telecommunication infrastructure, he loved the game of baseball, and he owned a lathe.
So when a neighbor brought him a broken discontinued wooden bat asking for a copy, Peter took the shards to his garage and fashioned one by hand. Days later, that kid's coach showed up.
"Said he needed 100 of them, so I turned to my wife and I go: 'It took me two and a half hours to make that bat,'" Peter said.
In the weeks that followed, Peter founded the Beaver Bat Company and upgraded to a computerized lathe, which allowed him to create the same bat the same way every time.
"I'm one of those guys who don't read the instructions," he said.
It took him eight months to master the machine. And he turned only 69 bats his first year in business. This year, the Beaver Bat Company expects to sell 12,000.
"There's more to bats than just turning a piece of wood," he said. "There's grains you have to watch and straightness of the barrel."
Last summer, Peter crafted some practice bats for the then-suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
"I don't think anybody wanted to give him any bats," he said.
But he said he prefers to deal these big league-quality sticks to a minor league or amateur lineup of clients.
"I'd rather, you know, sell to the 2 or 3 million kids playing baseball than the 300 guys swinging in the bigs," Peter said.
And so in the same town where Peter learned the game, he spends seven days a week inhaling sawdust and building baseball bats, marveling at the quality of his materials.
"I get this wood," Peter said. "It's the best in the world."