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Photography courtesy of Giant Project
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Grady Phelan was out back, tossing up hickory nuts and launching them out of his yard with a baseball bat, an annual family tradition. On one swing, the bat came flying out of his hands and nearly hit one of his sons in the head. “It really got my attention,” he says. Then he noticed a big bruise on his hand.
Phelan did a little research and learned that as a hitter swings, the knob gets in the way. Bat knobs have even broken the hamate bone in players’ wrists. So Phelan invented what he calls the ProXR (proxr.com), a bat with an angled knob, designed to prevent injuries by contouring to a hitter’s natural range of motion. And that allows for a more fluid swing. In short, it can keep you from getting hurt, and help you hit better, too.
The ProXR has been approved by Major League Baseball and the NCAA. In 2010, Mike Hessman of the New York Mets became the first player to use it in a big-league game (Prince Fielder has used it, too). To check out the fancy bat, we meet Phelan at All-Star Performance in Kirkwood. He shows four high-school players how to hold it and asks them to take a few rips. When they emerge from the cage, their reactions include “comfortable,” “balanced,” and “easier to swing.” One even asks about buying a ProXR. “I’ll give you guys a team discount,” Phelan says. An inventor and a salesman—this guy might just be on to something.