Skip to main content

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

"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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter