Marucci Sports, the Baton Rouge-based bat maker, announced a big-name acquisition Thursday that it hopes will help it bring more major league big names around to its growing brand.
The company held a teleconference to announce the hiring of Chuck Schupp as its head of big league player relations.
He was joined on the teleconference by Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista — a Marucci major leaguer, part-owner of the company and a member of its board of directors.
Schupp spent 35 years in a similar role with dominant bat maker Louisville Slugger before retiring last April. Baseball America called Schupp “the face of Louisville Slugger for major leaguers” during his decades with the company.
Schupp, 60, spent a year as a consultant, presumably while waiting for a no-compete clause with Louisville Slugger to expire. He said he was simply unable to stay away from the game he loves.
“Retirement isn’t good for me,” Schupp said. “I need to work.
“My adult life has been in baseball. I’ve had several players and agents texting and congratulating me on the new position, and it’s got me real excited about being back in the business. One of the things about this game that’s great is the clubhouse and the relationships you have. Those are the things you miss. That’s what I bring to the company. I look forward to helping them grow.”
Schupp was asked if Louisville Slugger’s acquisition by sports equipment giant Wilson — a $70 million deal completed in March — had any bearing on his original decision to leave his long-term employer.
“What factored into my decision was the Marucci team and the quality bat they made,” Schupp said. “That was (the) bigger factor in my decision than anything else.”
Louisville Slugger has been the top bat maker in baseball for more than 100 years, but over the last decade or so has seen its market share come under assault from companies like Marucci and DeMarini.
Bautista, who homered with a Marucci bat Wednesday night in Toronto’s 12-7 to Tampa Bay, said Schupp’s expertise will help the company’s ambitions of converting more major leaguers to its brand.
“We’re in a much better place now” than a few years ago when Marucci tried to be more selective with who used its bats, he said. “We can now cater to more players because we have a much larger capacity.”
Some of Marucci’s most prominent players include Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols and Chase Utley.
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