By Darryl G. Smart
All of the hard work, sacrifice and risks Trevor Oakes took over the last couple of years have paid off. And when Major League Baseball’s spring training begins, it’ll be a safe bet that the bat maker from Tillsonburg will have a smile on his face.
Last week, the owner and operator of ABO Baseball was informed that his bats are now MLB approved, giving the green light for players in the league to use them.
“I can’t explain the weight lifting feeling I had for three seconds. And then pure joy and excitement took over,” Oakes said. “I read the letter and I couldn’t believe that it had finally happened. ABO Baseball was in The Show.”
Once it somewhat sunk in, he called his wife, family and business partners.
“It is such an accomplishment. From taking chances and grinding long days and a lot of work,” Oakes said. “I left everything I knew and everything that was stable and secure living for me and my family to pursue this. And now it is all happening.”
When Oakes began this journey, he was planning on a five-year trek to get to the majors.
He’s done it in three.
To get his bats approved by MLB was a process. During the MLB Winter meetings in San Diego, in December, Oakes took part in several seminars and shows. That is where the road to the show really took off, before having to play the waiting game.
“We left it until the last minute to apply,” Oakes said. “It was literally the next day we got notice that the sample bat I sent was not going to pass because the logo sticker was too big by a half an inch. I rushed into the shop to make a new sample and had it sent out immediately.”
And then they had to wait again to hear from the sample bat inspector.
“I didn’t receive an email on the Monday, which to me was good news,” Oakes said. “No news was good news. Tuesday morning I saw the bat inspector’s name pop up in my email and my heart started to race, thinking that it was bad news. He asked me how many and who from ABO Baseball were coming down to Wisconsin, to the mandatory training. I replied and still in speculation waited some more and didn’t mention it to anyone until it was certain with yay or nay.
“Later that day I received an email from the MLB, again I nervously opened it and the first words were ‘Congratulations,’” said Oakes, who named ABO after his kids Audrey and Brandon Oakes. “I can’t wait to have my kids see their initials on the bats on TV during a professional MLB game,” Oakes said. “That is what the whole importance of it all is for me. I can’t wait until they realize everything and what it all means.”
Next up for Oakes and ABO Baseball is the process of offering the pro players in Arizona and Florida ABO Baseball bats during spring training.