A New Spring and a New Landscape
As baseball fans and a company whose primary focus is assisting baseball programs, players, and coaches, we love the Spring! One of our favorite parts of the spring is Spring Training. As we have done for several years now, Oates Specialties traveled to both the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League to visit the numerous organizations utilizing Oates Specialties’ equipment. We enjoyed our time with the Indians, Rangers, Nationals, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, Marlins, and Rays, to name a few. In addition, we saw countless major and minor league ballplayers with Oates Specialties’ equipment, including the phenom from Japan, Shohei Ohtani. It is always very humbling to see so many talented athletes choosing Oates Specialties’ equipment to assist them in their career.
But outside of spending time with our friends in professional baseball, I couldn’t help but notice how much different baseball is today—in terms of training—than when Oates Specialties was founded in 2003. In 2003, the baseball world was not familiar with the terms “arm care” or “dynamic warm-up”, and weighted balls were hardly being utilized. I remember my first American Baseball Coaches Association conference in 2004 where we were showing off the few products we had at that time, including tubing and weighted balls, and people looked at us like we were crazy. In fact, the first several ABCA conventions we had to do non-stop demos so that coaches could understood how to use our products. In the first 5 years of Oates Specialties’ existence our job was essentially to educate coaches on how to train their athletes differently. We continue to enjoy this role, but are thankful that there are so many great sources of information available to the baseball community today (follow us on social media to receive some of this great information, in addition to our website). Our primary focus has always been to assist baseball players in becoming as athletic as possible while also providing unique equipment that could enable players to train in baseball specific movement patterns, and to provide equipment specifically designed for the throwing athlete to help ensure a healthy arm.
In the early years, so many people questioned us, scoffed at us, or even outright insulted us for thinking outside the box. We often heard the line, “Well that’s not how I was taught to play/train for baseball.” Thankfully, over time, the baseball world caught on to the training revolution. Now there are incredible training facilities throughout the country who teach players how to improve their athleticism in addition to the sport specific skills needed for baseball.
Unsurprisingly, the very last people who catch on to a paradigm shift such as this are those at the professional level. This is in large part because they don’t have to, as they have the best talent in the world and do not have to focus on development nearly as much. Yet, as the lower levels of baseball changed, it slowly trickled up to the professional ranks. The Cleveland Indians and Trevor Bauer is a great example. Trevor grew up training with Oates Specialties’ products—the Shoulder Tube, TAP Extreme Duty Weighted Balls, and Wrist Weights to be specific—and continued using this equipment on his path to the Major Leagues. When he arrived in the Major Leagues, teams, coaches, and staff noticed and decided to educate themselves on the programs and thought process he utilized. Much of the Cleveland Indians’ staff and front office traveled to the Texas Baseball Ranch to learn Trevor’s training program. The Indians ultimately hired Eric Binder as its Director of Player Development. Eric trained with Oates Specialties’ equipment during his playing career, and has now implemented Oates Specialties’ equipment throughout the Indians’ organization. Below is a picture of Oates Specialties’ weighted balls lined up for use at the Indians’ Major League Spring Training camp.
The Indians are not alone in this regard, we saw Oates Specialties’ products at all of our stops during Spring Training, and saw professional athletes using numerous types of equipment from Oates Specialties. It is clear that there is a new training landscape—one that Oates Specialties has been privileged to be a part of and looks forward to continue playing a role in.
If there is anything we can do to help with your baseball training, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to add you to the list of players, coaches, or teams that have used our products in furthering their baseball goals.
Until next time,