CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The crack of the bat is as baseball as the pitching, fielding, catching and running the bases.
There's one local guy who knows a thing or two about the woods and the tradition of bats, and Cleveland 19 got a chance to talk with him today about the bats he makes.
"My product doesn't have series numbers on it," said Johnny Smatana, the owner of Johnnyville Woods in the 5th Street Arcade.
What they do have is that very personal touch and craftsmanship.
"For all the artwork that's involved with what we do, which is type, color, style of bat, the logo you want, looks a like art. But the real truth of the matter is we take the signature of the recipient, put that on the front of the bat, your hand written message from whoever is giving it on the back of the bat and that's it. Boom, heirloom."
Johnny S., as he likes to be called, spends lots of time making his bats special, because they mean a lot to the people giving and receiving them.
"You have grandfathers writing to grandsons, fathers to sons, sons to fathers and that crisscross world. In the corporate world, I'm a monster."
Johnny S. left that corporate world after 27 years to do what is making him a household name. Johnnyville Woods is home to bats made from locally sustainable trees. No two bats are the same and each takes about 7-10 days to produce.
"When you start to see the woods, Curly Maples, Curly Ash, Birdseye, all the different Indigenous woods that we're using and then you see them in colors that you've never seen. I'm not talking about painted, we're talking about translucent blues, green, reds. That's what catches somebody's eye. But, what really seals the deal is once they realize that handwritten message."
A Johnnyville Woods bat will never be used on a major league baseball diamond, but to those who purchase one of the $300 bass, it's priceless.