From his humble beginnings working out of his garage, Sam Holman has made bats for many of the biggest names in baseball.
But last week he got the call to make one for a much bigger hitter.
Mr. Holman, the former National Arts Centre carpenter who turned a hobby into a thriving business, arrived at work last Friday morning to find a representative of the Prime Minister's Office visiting his shop.
With avid baseball fan George W. Bush about to visit, the PMO staff figured there was no better gift to line up than one of Mr. Holman's bats. Although an item that normally sells for $120 (U.S.) would hardly rank as one of the ritziest gifts ever given to a visiting president, it seemed to strike a chord with the former owner of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers.
"It's really a rush, I must admit it," Mr. Holman said. "I make bats for a lot of heavy hitters. Just some have better stats than others."
Mr. Holman was introduced to Mr. Bush at last night's reception at the Museum of Civilization. Mr. Bush was delighted with the gift, telling Mr. Holman the bats would be kept in a place of "high honour."
Although often heralded as a Canadian entrepreneurial success story, Mr. Holman is in fact a landed immigrant from South Dakota who served two years in the U.S. military during the 1960s.
Rumours persist in the United States that Mr. Bush would one day like to become commissioner of baseball. With that in mind, Mr. Holman suggested a bat for the U.S. leader inscribed "to the future commissioner of baseball."
Mr. Holman then bounced the idea off his brother, John, who lives in Houston.
"He said, 'You ought to make two models -- the Presidential 41 and 43 models,' " Mr. Holman said, referring to Mr. Bush's status as the 43rd U.S. president and to his father, George H. W. Bush, who was the 41st.
"We shortened it to Prez 41 and 43. We ran that by the PMO and they said, 'Great.' "
The second bat is inscribed "to the father of the future commissioner of baseball."
Last night the President lightly resisted the suggestion on the inscription that he become baseball commissioner.
"He told me, 'Please don't let me become commissioner, but it's okay if dad becomes his adviser,' " Mr. Holman said.
Mr. Holman also added the logo of a red, white and blue ribbon to each bat, in recognition of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Mr. Holman's success is remarkable for someone who had no background in baseball when, in 1996, he began his quest to build a better bat at the urging of a friend.
He immediately began experimenting with maple, believing it would splinter less and be more durable. At the time, all major league bats were made of white ash.
Once approved for major league use, Mr. Holman's "Sambats" took off in popularity among professionals. Today, they are used by more than 150 major-leaguers, including San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who set a major-league record with 73 home runs in 2001.
Mr. Holman telephoned Mr. Bonds from last night's reception and handed the phone to Condoleezza Rice, the incoming U.S. secretary of state, who is known to be a fan of the ball player.
"I don't think she'll forget that for a while," Mr. Holman said.