SEQUIM, Wash. — At Civic Field on the Olympic Peninsula the West Coast League’s Port Angeles Lefties are having batting practice.
And Gary White is listening to his favorite sound:
"Everybody loves that wood crack coming off a wood bat,” he said. That sound is even sweeter because he made some of the bats the team is using.
Gary and his wife Brenda run Tsunami Bat Company out of their home in Sequim. They both retired from the Coast Guard and decided it was time to throw a change-up.
"I did my time working for Uncle Sam so I wanted to dive off the deep end and see where the chips fly and I said I'm gonna try my hand at making bats,” said Gary.
The bats start as 6-pound wood cylinders called billets. The billet goes into a computer-controlled lathe. Then those chips Gary talked about start to fly.
While Gary makes the bats, Brenda handles getting them out the door. The company is still small enough that they know all of their customers and can turn a custom bat overnight. Customers range from little league kids to grownup heavy hitters, and they've sent their bats all over the country.
Why the name Tsunami?
“It comes from a couple different places. As a Coast Guard officer, I was an emergency planner for 6 years, and I had planned for some pretty nasty tsunamis,” said Brenda. “And when my husband comes in and does something he does it at one hundred and twenty-five percent, so it's kind of like a tsunami rolling through in a very positive way."
These bats can be engraved, and are stained in a rainbow of custom colors. And by the time a Tsunami bat gets its color, it has spent more than an hour in Gary's hands. Plus, he likes to test bats in a cage he has next to the shop.
The five-year game plan is to get these Northwest made bats into the hands of Major League Baseball players. But the Whites are already enjoying their version of the sweet sound of success every time a Tsunami hits a baseball.