In looking for information related to researching Adirondack Bats from the 1950s and 1960s, I came across a rather interesting news paper article on Zinn Beck Bats. The article ran in the Friday, October 12th 1973 edition of the Anderson Daily Bulletin. The piece was titled “Lil’ ole bat maker turns off his lathe.” The subject of this wonderful story is Garnett Beck who was 79 at the time of the article. By this time in life, Beck had been making bays for some 60 years. According to Beck, “there just weren’t very many people in the bat making business back then…besides, I just it was as good a business as any to get in to, and I did very well in it.”
Beck goes on to explain his big break came when he moved to Columbia, South Carolina. His brother Zinn was managing a baseball team there and it was his brother who formed the Zinn Beck Co and Garnett Beck went to work for him turning bats. “We did very well our first year-we sold over 20,000 bats. And in our third year we were selling more than 60,000 bats a year.
Beck went on to say that “we had agents everywhere and shipped bats all over the country (proving it to the articles author by unpacking a think book of old order forms). “We sold bats to organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Louisville, and New York.” In 1930, Garnett Beck moved and began working for Hillerich & Bradsby and stayed there until 1940.
At this point, he decided to go into business for himself, but could not afford the $18,000 purchase for automatic turning equipment, saying he could turn out a bat in about seven minutes. Now if you have been keeping pace, this time line places our story in the mid 1940s and the article goes on to state that Garnett Beck had to stick to smaller markets and “leave the major field to the major companies (H&B, Adirondack, and Hanna)”.
This article, although little help in my Adirondack research, provided some interesting insights into the nature of bat manufacturing in the early 1920s with respect to the Zinn Beck Co and the nature of their production and distribution efforts…when Beck mentions selling bats to “organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Louisville, and New York,” I don’t it a stretch to assume some of those organizations may have been major league clubs. The other thing was the comment about who was dominating the “major field” in the 1940s and the listing of both Adirondack and Hanna.
While all of this is very interesting, it also underscores a point I have been making for years about doing research and the value of looking at old newspapers.
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