Crafting Maine-made baseball bats in Shirley Mills.
By Joel Crabtree
Photographed by Brian Fitzgerald
Last summer, the year after the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series in three decades, the team’s first baseman, Eric Hosmer, stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat in a Major League Baseball all-star game. Then, he drilled a solo home run so hard over the left-field wall at San Diego’s Petco Park that the ink on the ball left an imprint on the bat. Hosmer earned MVP honors, and the bat, with the manufacturer’s “DTB” logo engraved on its middle, earned a trip back east, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, nearer its humble origins in the woods of Shirley Mills, Maine.
“DTB” is Dove Tail Bats, one of only a few dozen MLB-approved bat makers, run by Paul Lancisi in a workshop 10 minutes south of Greenville. In addition to Hosmer, a growing number of notable major leaguers have swung Lancisi’s bats, including other Royals Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas, Washington Nationals Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, and Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp. “I’ve tried almost every bat company out there,” says Brett Phillips, a top prospect with the Milwaukee Brewers. “You name it, I’ve tried it.” But Phillips took a liking to the feel of Dove Tail’s lumber and gloss — there’s a hardness to the bats that makes the ball jump off the barrel, he says. And he’s keen on being able to customize specs: “I like a skinny handle, I like a medium-sized barrel, I want it this size, and I want it this weight — they take those measurements and make that perfect bat for you.”