Baseball home run king Barry Bonds was in Canada's capital city Saturday to thank a man who helped him set a new record
Bonds credited Sam Holman with crafting the ideal bat, which he used to knock 73 balls out of the park last year and grab one of the game's most coveted titles.
For most of his life, Holman worked as a stagehand at Ottawa's National Arts Centre.
But six years ago, over beer with a scout who had just returned from spring training in Florida, he decided to try to create a better baseball bat. After some research, Holman settled on carving high-grade maple instead of the traditional ash, which crack too often.
The Original Maple Bat Corporation was formed in 1997, and now carefully produces stacks of instruments that pitchers hate. Its clients include 300 major league players.
The Sam Bat became famous last season when Bonds, of the San Francisco Giants, used it to break the single-season home run record.
"We've had a phenomenal year," Holman said. "The Maple Bat Corporation has doubled its production again to 14,500 this year. And I think I owe a great deal of credit to Barry."
Word is spreading fast about Holman's small Ottawa bat factory, according to Bonds. One of the things players like so much is having personal contact with the person who actually shapes the wood just right.
"You know, you have representatives that sell bats for bat companies," Bonds explained. "You don't actually have the man who's bent over making the bats for you. That's very rare. You don't ever see that. So I think that's what separates him from everybody else."