by Mykal McEldowney, The Greenville News – Cut to order prime maple billets arrive from a sawmill that sits just a few miles from Cooperstown, New York.
With lathe and chisel, Eddie Rollins, co-owner of Anchor Bat Co., finds center, mounts and begins to shape each billet into a symbol of America's pastime.
"He can make anything and everything," said Matthew Rollins, Eddie's son and fellow owner of the Greenville-based company. "It just comes to him naturally and when it comes to bats, same thing."
Matthew's love for the game of baseball started at age four but didn't end after high school ball, college ball at North Greenville and a short stint in independent professional ball.
From that, the father and son pair saw a need for better consistency with wooden bats.
"Ten years ago my dad and I started toying with the idea of starting a bat company," said Matthew. "Ten years ago I didn't think it was that great of an idea. Five years ago he didn't think it was that great of an idea. Two years ago we both came to the conclusion if we're going to do it, now is the time."
Matthew and his wife debated for months. There were no more what ifs.
"My wife never watches baseball but now she's watching to see what other guys are using and saying, 'Hey I think we can get them to use Anchor,'" said Matthew.
Symbolic of their Christianity and easily recognizable, the Rollins chose an anchor as their logo, found twice on each bat. The first on the knob, burned on at 900 degrees, the other hand painted at the end of the handle near the barrel.
"From prior work experience we've had the blessings of being around a lot of high profile major league athletes and/or the agents that represent them," said Matthew. "From that, we have five or six organizations looking forward to using us in 2015 spring training."
Without naming names, Rollins said other high profile Major League all-stars, both in the American and National league, have shown interest in using Anchor in the 2015-16 season.
"We're down to a one-car family, we've sold any kind of furniture we had payments on, we've sold just about anything that isn't attached to our walls or nailed to the floor to continue to pursue the dream," said Matthew.
In the next 24 months, Anchor hopes to be nationally recognized with big leaguers swinging their bats.
"We've put, literally, every dime that we have, both my dad and myself, into it," said Matthew. "We've made the sacrifice and it's starting to work."
(photo credit: Mykal McEldowney)