Pillbox Bat Co. of Minnesota officially licensed by MLB to manufacture baseball bats

The Pillbox Bat Company in Winona has now been officially licensed by Major League Baseball to manufacture what their company is best known for: baseball bats.

In July, the company was officially licensed by the league to manufacture other memorabilia, but Louisville Slugger retained exclusive rights to the bats.

Co-founder Dan Watson said negotiations were active again after the league and Fanatics contacted them, calling it a “great” development.

“The fanatics/MLB reached out to us and said the opportunity was back on the table and if we wanted it we could have it,” Watson said, noting that the company already using its license had told them. given a head start over other competitors.

“When I got the email from Fanatics, I jumped out of my chair screaming! It was such a good time. My wife thought something was wrong, but it was far from be the case.”

The company made the announcement on its Instagram on Tuesday.

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Watson said it allows the company to be even more free and creative in its operations, especially when it comes to professional baseball teams and players.

“We are not only allowed to make regular size bats, but also mini bats, any type of wooden bats and become more creative with more collaborations with artists to develop designs,” he said. “People know us for our bats, so licensing the main product is a huge deal. It makes the fan experience all the more authentic.”

Watson said the collaborations span artists, players and possibly a chance to bring their designs to the diamonds of Major League Baseball stadiums. Bats won’t be used on game days in the batter’s box — for now, at least — but Watson said there are other ways Pillbox Bat Company can still dig in and leave its mark.

“We could possibly partner with a company like Old Hickory, paint a bat for [MLB] Player’s Week, features gear for All-Star festivities. Conversations can at least take place with this stuff now.”

The company was started by Watson and Fellman in 2015 and was an idea they had together since their youth in the 1990s. The company is licensed to manufacture MLB memorabilia and other black league-related merchandise, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the University of Notre Dame.

Prior to obtaining an official bat license, other items such as wooden pennants, coasters, and everything listed on its website were exclusively licensed by MLB. Wooden pennants can also be found on the Fanatics website.

Early on, Watson said he and Fellman made it their goal to get an MLB license. During the first few months of activity, they contacted the league and began licensing discussions. The talks lasted for months, then turned into years. Finally, an agreement was reached on July 1.

“Getting an MLB license is huge and offers all kinds of opportunities,” Watson said in July.

MLB players, such as Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jonathan India, have expressed interest in the company. Custom bats were also made for Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, likely future St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame players.

According to Pillbox’s Instagram, artist Keith Shore is focusing on a new bat design featuring Philadelphia Phillies players that will be restricted to purchase, just in time for the 2022 World Series.

And when asked about sales since the company got an official license on Friday, Watson said:

“Incredible first day! We are breaking records.”

Neal T. Doss