The Future of Baseball and the Thirty-5 Capital/ProXR Partnership

By Thomas Price Saturday, August 29, 2020

Following the news of a partnership between Thirty-5 Capital and ProXR, the landscape of baseball could soon change quite drastically.

ProXR is a sports equipment company focusing mainly on professional level baseball bats and hockey sticks. The company was founded by Grady Phelan in 2014, who, after losing his bat in a swing and bruising his hand in the process, began to look further into the issues that caused this. He found that the shape of the knob on a baseball bat was not perfectly attuned to a swing without the possibility of injury.

With that in mind, Phelan took to redesigning the handle of a bat to fit more in line with a baseball player’s grip and swing.

The redesign led to the creation of an angled knob at the end of the bat, which creates a more ergonomically inclined handle. This should lead to a decrease in wrist/hand-related injuries in baseball as well as more control over the swing itself.

Price-wise, ProXR’s professional model costs about $120, with an added twenty for a steel-pressed version. Even with the additional $20 to get a steel pressed version, the overall price still comes in about $10 cheaper than professional level bats from companies like Louisville Slugger and Marucci, both of which make up the majority of bats used in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Now, in comparison to a company like Axe Bat, which also makes ergonomically inclined handles and knobs for baseball bats at a professional level, the price difference is even starker with Axe Bats costing around $200 for their models.

The future looks bright for ProXR, which will be competing directly for market shares with Louisville Slugger and Marucci to be a lead supplier of bats to the MLB. At the same time, the main focus of the current competition should be becoming the main supplier of bats with custom-designed handles and knobs over Axe Bats. With this in mind, their partnership with Thirty-5 Capital should be a major help in this endeavor.

Thirty-5 Capital is a venture capital firm focused on supporting growth in startups and other early-stage businesses. The company was founded by Ron Saslow, who has also served as chairman, president, and CEO of Hu-Friedy Manufacturing. At this role within the company, Hu-Friedy generated over $225 million in revenue in 2019. The majority of investments made by Thirty-5 Capital have been in companies focusing on the manufacturing of medical and dental instruments and supplies.

With the investment from Thirty-5 Capital, ProXR should start to look at the revenues of companies like Marucci, which made nearly $16 million in 2016 as the future benchmark for their own outlook with the potential to reach sixty million athletes across all of their products. The two companies announced their partnership on August 19, 2020.

So, what does this all mean for the MLB and baseball? Well, considering that the current number of players out with finger or wrist injuries is in double digits, the reduction of that number could be paramount in creating a healthier, more successful league.

With many players getting injured having contracts up to $30 million a year, keeping them in good shape and on the field would result in a tremendous amount of money saved and not wasted on the sidelines. Especially considering that many fans come specifically to see a star player or would be inclined to buy jerseys or other merchandise of that player, it could add up to millions of more in revenue every year if the talent on the field can stay healthy for an entire season.

Along with this, the league has seen a larger interest in technology and statistics to create advantages and build teams. So, with more enhanced baseball equipment becoming available, their integration into the league at a large scale level is almost inevitable. Advancements in catching gear, gloves, and bats are already being seen at the professional level as players continue to use the tools available to them to improve.

There is also statistical evidence that the increased use of these enhanced tools, along with sabermetrics, has already contributed to on-field results. In 2019, an unbelievable amount of home run records were set, which could easily be due, in part, to the increased use of enhanced bats.

What this all leads to is healthier players on the field and the ability to take part in a more explosive, exciting game to watch. In turn, this could lead to a renewed interest by fans in the game of baseball as a whole. This impact could be seen in ticket sales, revenue from merchandise and apparel, and, most importantly, in the rise of little league enrollment.

This is where baseball desperately needs to see improvements. Especially considering that most other major sports require far less equipment to play, it is instrumental in revitalizing the game that the costs and accessibility of high-quality bats, gloves, cleats, and helmets change. In the same vein, building up a fan base through a more exciting product will result in more families choosing to go to a baseball game over football or basketball whose tickets are already more expensive.

Baseball is a game steeped in tradition and history, but that does not necessarily mean that the tools used by the front office and the players have to be as well. In fact, with more investments into creating better and newer technology within the sport can lead to the MLB thriving in the modern era.

About the Author

Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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