Produced in Allegany County, NY
From “Allegany County Democrat” – 3/9/1939
Researched and Submitted by Mary Rhodes; Transcribed by Ron Taylor
Belmont Man Produces Most of Bats Used By Big League Stars
Factory Now at Peak of Season Rush
The “hot-stove leaguers” of this vicinity will have more than passing interest in baseball when they listen to radio accounts of major league games this summer.
Just how many times the speculation will arise when Lou Gehrig or Hank Greenberg smacks out a homer whether the bat used came from Belmont is hard to estimate. The odds are pretty well in favor of the supposition, because there are less than half a dozen manufacturers of bats in this country. One of the leading firms, located in Syracuse, purchases a large portion of its stock from a Belmont man.
A part of the company’s output last year was made out of Southern Tier or Northern Pennsylvania second-growth white ash, selected, sawed and partially turned out by Clayton E. McQueen of Belmont in his four-man wood-working plant at the county seat. The reason why ash is chosen as the best wood for making bats for hard usage on the diamond is that it is just about the right weight, tough and not easily broken, has a close grain and takes a good finish. Hickory is sometimes used for softball bats, but, is not good enough for use by teams out for homers in big or even sand-lot leagues.
How carefully the logs must be selected out of which good bats are made is explained by Mr. McQueen. Only 20 out of 50 logs are useable, he says. Those that pass inspection are cut into pieces 42 inches long and four inches square to be turned into bats. The rejected material is made up into items such as oil well rods. Handles of various kinds are made from suitable logs.
Mr. McQueen began business 12 years ago (1927) and has turned out thousands of bats for wholesalers. He does no finishing but saws out the rough pieces from the logs, turns them down three inches in diameter and then they are passed on to the manufacturer.
At present the Belmont plant has orders on hand for 15,000 rough bat pieces for the 1939 season. It could book an order for as many more if they could be produced in time, but, facilities of the shop are such that it is impossible, under present conditions, to attempt so much work in so short a time. The rough turned bats must be air-dried five or six month before finishing. They cannot be kiln dried, as that seems to take the life out of the wood.
To the factory profession baseball players come to try out new bats before they are made up for them. The bat is shortened or turned down smaller or otherwise altered until the “hand” and “feel” of it suits the player. Some prefer larger knobs on the handles than others. All have their varying ideas as to what constitutes the perfect bat.
Bats that have, perhaps, been first sawed and rough turned at Belmont may have been swung by the one-time “sultan of swat,” the mighty Babe Ruth himself, for he has used many of these bats. Other well known starts including Dick Porter, Jimmy Foxx, Eddie Moore and “Rip” Collins have swung many a Belmont ash.
Many bats put out from factories have finishes that are done with a secret process, known only to the company making them. One such was exhibited by Mr. McQueen, shining in white shellac.
From “Belmont Dispatch” newspaper – 2/12/1948; Researched by Mary Rhodes; Transcribed by Ron Taylor
Baseball Bats Manufactured in Local Plant
A local industry not entirely new, but one which the editor feels too little is known, is the B&B Woodworking Company. In order to keep our readers informed and to boost the County Seat industrial picture, we herewith pass along the following enlightening article:
The B&B Woodworking Company of Belmont, owned and operated by C. H. Blackman of Riverside, Wellsville, and his son-in-law, Arden L. Burchfield, of Willets avenue, this village, began operations here in August, 1945, when the Fairview Avenue property and woodworking plant was purchased from Reed Brothers of Bridgeport, PA.
Since taking possession, the entire plant has been remodeled to mass produce ball bats. Obsolete machinery was discarded and new brought in. A few of the changes included installation of a steam dry kiln, built under directions of Syracuse University; acquiring a Mattison automatic lathe, considered the fastest and most complete cutting tool in use for ball bats, fitted with high production cutter heads, and a Nash sander, capable of sanding eight bats a minute was purchased and installed. Finishing and production techniques gathered from all parts of the country, coupled with the owners’ improvements, place the Blackman & Burchfield bats in a class capable of successfully competing with the best bats on the market.
Mr. Burchfield says orders are piling up and even with the plant running shifts, all the orders cannot be filled. He further states that around 2,500 bats were shipped last week.
The Blackman & Burchfield bats are well represented in Big League baseball. Mr. Blackman, who recently returned from the New York Sporting Goods Show where B&B bats have been on display for the past two years, states that it promises to be a good year for this line of merchandising.
The B&B policy is to make the best bats on the market, to hire as many men as possible and boost the village of Belmont. At present the plant affords employment to fifteen men, with good prospects of hiring more in the future. These top grade bats were named after the Village of Belmont to advertise one of the best small communities in the U.S.A.
Stories, similar to the above concerning any local business will be welcomed by this paper. Let’s all boost “our town”.
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Produced in Allegany County, NY