We like to think that the Pillbox Bat Co. started over two decades ago when Zak Fellman and Dan Watson were playing little league baseball together. Most games Zak was pitching and Dan was playing shortstop. We even made our first bat while we were in little league. Crafted from a tree limb and painted with house paint. A dozen or so of these homespun bats launched tennis balls and racquetballs in roughly organized home run derby's and pickup ballgames in the neighborhood.
WHAT'S IN A NAME:
Our name "Pillbox Bat Co." pays tribute to the old Downtown Park in St. Paul, Minn. So small that, nicknamed the "Pillbox", it is said that hits over the left and right field fences were only awarded two bases. Being pressed into service in 1903 by the new owner of the St. Paul Saints because he didn't think folks wanted to walk two miles from downtown to the nicer Lexington Ballpark, the Pillbox was not a thing of beauty. It serviced the Saints until 1909 when they moved back to Lexington Park. It was also home to the St. Paul Colored Gophers and even hosted a series in 1909, billed as the "world’s colored championship,” in which the Gophers beat the Leland Giants of Chicago.
You may find it an odd choice of stadium to pay homage to with our company name. But to us, the story of the Pillbox Ballpark, is the story of what baseball is all about. It's like that sand-lot place out back of your house that is just big enough to throw down a couple of mitts and a hat for bases, anoint someone all-time pitcher and strike up a game of stick-ball. It's that place that folks would go to after work to grab a beer and get into a fistfight during the seventh inning stretch. It's that place that everyone could take pride in because even if it was a sorry excuse of a ballpark, at least it was your sorry excuse of a ballpark - "and don't you dare say otherwise, you hear!"
THOUGHTS FROM OUR FOUNDERS:
Zak Fellman: "I consider myself a baseball player to this day, even though more years have past in my life since I was last on a baseball team than the number of years I spent growing up playing ball(I do still play softball every summer). I think every ballplayer shares this in common: we all consider ourselves baseball players until the day we die. There are some things that will never fade away: the smell of oiled leather and grass and dry dirt, the feel of the red-hot sun baking the back of your neck and the joy brought on by a well executed squeeze at the plate."
Dan Watson: "Baseball is my sport. For me baseball is the only sport I remember playing growing up. Even though I also played football, ran track, cross-country, basketball, and wrestled. Baseball was my passion and still is. Something awakens in me and a flood of great memories come back to me anytime I even see a baseball or even drive by a ball field. From my first homerun to pitching in the Metrodome when I played in college, baseball is as much a part of who I am as the town where I grew up.
When Zak asked me to do this business I honestly wasn’t sure I should add another business to my life, but the longer I thought of it the more those memories overwhelmed my thoughts. It went from should I do this to how could I not do this. This company is truly a company that Zak and I started when we were 12, we just didn’t know it at the time. Now that Pillbox is a reality we look forward to sharing our passion with all kinds of baseball lovers."