As a home-schooled student, 15-year-old Kenny Harris considers himself fortunate that he has the opportunity to take his love for baseball to the Sycamore War Eagles field. He has also turned his love for the game into a unique hobby and lucrative side hustle.
Since last year when he took an interest in a hand-me-down lathe, he has been making custom designed baseball and softball bats. Now a young entrepreneur with a natural talent for wood working, Kenny has officially launched his own business— Bigfoot Bat Company.
“Kenny was 14 years old when he took a particular interest in a lathe that was passed down from his grandfather. He was so anxious to see what he could do with it, he pleaded ‘just let me see what the different tools do.’ Within a half-hour of putting a wooden dowel on the lathe, he had turned himself a mini-bat,” his mother MJ Harris recalls. “He then asked me to purchase him a real bat billet, and the rest is history.”
Kenny’s bat creations are all unique, and every single step of the production process is done by hand- and all by Kenny himself.
“I like making custom designed bats because it allows the customer to be creative. It is their own personal bat, reflecting their own creative touch. Most importantly, it allows them to be who they are and take that out onto the field with them,” Kenny says.
Each bat takes hours of attention, creativity, and craftsmanship to complete. And while the finished product is painted to fit the needs of each customer and embossed with the Bigfoot Bat Company logo, they start off as a 37-inch dowel, approximately 3" in diameter.
The various woods he uses in his creations, White Ash, Rock Maple, and Yellow Birch, are harvested by a company in Maine.
After taking one of his creations to practice one day, his teammates began placing orders; coaches followed suit. And then people in the community began requesting his bats.
“The coaches recognized Kenny had a different kind of talent, and they began encouraging him, which really inspired him to keep working,” MJ says.
Former War Eagle Head Coach Daniel Smiley was actually the inspiration behind the name, too.
“The name Bigfoot Bats was Coach Daniel Smiley's idea because Kenny wears a size 15 cleat. He initially said it in joking manner, but it immediately stuck, and there was no doubt Bigfoot Bats would be the name,” MJ adds.
Some of Kenny’s creations are up for sale at Sweet on Main in Pleasant View, and are featured on his Facebook page, Bigfoot Bat Company.