Get a grip on bat manufacturer tours

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 20, 2011

With Major League Baseball’s spring training just starting up, my thoughts have turned towards spring and summer getaway opportunities.

I’m already looking at the Wahoo Warriors away schedule and trying to plan a couple getaways. In addition to taking in the ball games, I will use my free time to go out and explore the local sights, attractions and dining spots.

Speaking about baseball, here’s a travel suggestion that fans can really get a grip on: A tour of a baseball bat manufacturer. Even non-fans should find the bat making process engaging and educational.

Email newsletter signup

Mention baseball bats and ardent fans generally think about the city of Louisville, Ky., home of the famed Louisville Slugger bat factory and museum. But the Travel Prof has discovered another regional option, the Phoenix Bat Company.

The Phoenix Bat Company is located just outside of Columbus, about 5 miles from the city’s outer belt. It’s right here where all of their bats are made, transformed from a long tube of wood into a finished bat on the most advanced bat-making machine used by anyone.

The Phoenix facility tour lasts approximately one hour during which you’ll find out about how the business got started (blame it on a bunch of guys playing baseball in the 1800’s!), working with pro athletes and the process of creating a great bat.

You’ll learn about wood selection, computer-aided design, then take a trip out to the shop floor for an up-close view of the bat making and finishing process. Each tour includes a custom engraved mini bat to commemorate your visit. Current tours cost $10 per person and do need to be scheduled in advance.

Turn your bat tour into a mini excursion and check out some other Greater Columbus area offerings. Plan your journey when the Columbus Clippers are at home and catch a game or two at Huntington Park. This is a great venue to watch a game plus it is an affordable family outing.

While you are in the area head to Upper Arlington, another Columbus suburb, for a visit to destination supermarket, the Giant Eagle Market District supermarket in the upscale Kingsdale Shopping Center. Located at 3061 Kingsdale Center this supercenter is overwhelming. This upscale store features more premium brands, ready-to-eat gourmet foods, an expanded in-house bakery, sushi bar and other amenities such as a beverage bar offering coffee and specialty fruit drinks. Organic fruits, vegetables, beef and other meats were tastily displayed. Gourmet was the word that kept reoccurring as I strolled through broad aisles of this marketplace.

A friend of friend recommended that we stop at the Ohio Deli, a family-style restaurant located south of German Village at 3444 S High St. We followed the advice and went on Sunday morning. Bad timing as we pulled into the parking lot just as the Sunday morning after church crowd did. We experienced a wait but it was well worth it! The food was very good, the portions were huge and the price was great. The place was spotless with exceptional service. I tried the Dagwood challenge but wasn’t up to it. Too much food! My head was on a swivel as I watched in awe as the wait staff delivered plate after plate of good ole comfort food. I’ll have to add this to one of my regular Columbus feasting stops.

All of this could easily be accomplished in a day but I would plan the bat tour in the morning then browse Giant Eagle in the afternoon with an evening ball game. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the Ohio Deli so timing your dining is not as critical.

Staying focused on Columbus there are still seats available for the Ironton in Bloom trip on Saturday March 5. This trip visits Franklin Park Conservatory and the Columbus Home, Flower and Garden show. The excursion costs $90 and includes transportation, all admission fees and two meals. It is open to the public and garden enthusiasts should certainly enjoy the experiences. For more information about the bus trip, the organization or how you can donate please contact call Carol Allen at 740-532-4495, Cindy Caskey at 740-532-3534 or me the Travel Prof at 740.550.9540.

Happy Travels! I hope to see you on board the Columbus Flower Fun Express or at the ballpark!