By Jared Acuna and Lisa Lamping
Baseball lends itself to a sort of magic. While other sports take on a kinetic energy, baseball gives you time to think. That’s where its magic truly grows, in moments where players and fans get to take it all in. It can be found in the smell of a trodden base, freshly cut grass in the outfield or from a leather glove. Whether it’s the home plate or the dugout, baseball allows you the time to dream, and then swing for it.
For local entrepreneur Danny Supple, baseball magic comes through the soft grains of an ash wood bat in his grip. A Warrenton Warrior in his high school days, Supple has run more bases than you’ve ever sung, “Take me out to the ball game!” It’s his firm, capable hold that has made his brand, Supple Rockers, what it is today.
Danny always grew up around woodworking. He had even built rocking chairs before, but as all good baseball stories go, Supple Rockers started with a boy and his dad. For baseball often has a way of being hereditary. It begins by playing catch in the backyard, teaching them the basics while they dream of that first game to come. Next thing you know, they’re up next at the batter’s box.
Supple brought more than just one of his son’s dreams to life though. For it was Supple’s son, Joe, that gave his father the founding idea to build a rocking chair out of baseball bats. Just how Supple makes these chairs is even more fascinating than their inception.
“They’re not just a chair,” grinned Supple. “They’re not just a piece of furniture. They do something. They have a heartbeat.”
It’s a heartbeat rooted in baseball lore. Supple and his family put their heads together, came up with a design and pitched the idea to a couple different bat manufacturers. Eventually, Danny built a solid business relationship with Marucci Sports. Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Marucci is currently the biggest name in bat manufacturing. What really caught Supple’s eye, however, was the paramount quality of their wood.
Among the many favorable aspects, Danny enlightened, “Bone rubbed, they actually take a cow’s femur and rub the grain on the barrel. It closes the soft grain to the hard grain, essentially tempering it. Maple is a different breed of cat if you will. It’s a more shorter grain, super hard. The harder, the better.”
Another key factor in Supple’s search was finding a bat manufacturer that would supply him with custom turned “blank bats” to meet his rocker specifications. This enables him to laser engrave the Marucci logo in the middle of the bat and custom information on the barrel. By doing this procedure it assures the markings on the bats will last forever.
In their entirety, Supple’s chairs consists of six different bats each. Two of them are incredibly rare, made just for his design. Nicknamed as “the bats that swallowed a ball,” these two pieces serve as support beams for the back of the chairs. Custom made, the amount of engineering skill that went into them is bewildering.
Additionally, the chairs feature a fully customizable backrest. Displayed like ticket stubs, the back portions are meant as a homage to a fan’s history with a ball park, a team or just the downright magic of baseball. These centerpieces aren’t the last of what Danny’s has up his sleeve.
The engraving procedure to make these ticket stubs is a remarkable story by itself. It was not an easy task to find the right engraver. Imagine finding it in his own backyard, so to speak, that is where his lengthy search finally came to an end. In the neighboring town of Knappa, there just so happened to be an engraver who owned a world-renowned machine. It could handle anything Danny could throw at it. The engraving machine hit a homerun every time, giving Supple Rockers its signature clean and smooth appearance.
These rocking chairs are also as comfortable as they are refined. Fabricated meticulously with seats of genuine leather, there’s an assortment of colors to choose from. There’s even a stitching arc over the leather, replicating the look of an actual baseball. According to Danny, he uses the same stitching material as premier ball manufacturers.
Supple has a way of making everything sound easy. Yet, his process is anything but simple. Much more involved than one might think, Danny has crafted his own sort of assembly line at his workshop in Astoria. Every step is examined closely by his careful eye. The result is a top notch and world class product that cannot be compared.
One of the most important aspects that Danny shared was, “Getting it right.”
Quality takes time to master and it’s with great appreciation that Supple looks back on the obstacles he had to overcome just to get it all right. Angles, engravings, alignments and finished coatings are just to name a few of the challenges. Not to mention his hunt for top grade materials and subsequently acquiring them. Many had to be designed from scratch, like the actual rockers that the chairs sit on as well as the miscellaneous joints that hold everything together. Each part had to be researched and perfected.
Now with all the pieces in place, Supple appears to have hit a Grand Slam with his rocking chair. Since 2010, a total of 69 chairs have been constructed for a number of clients. Even some of the biggest baseball names out there, like retired Yankees closing pitcher Mariano Rivera are proud owners of the Supple Rocker.
This past year alone, Oregon State University auctioned two of them for a fundraiser. Supple Rockers was also just asked by the Tiger Woods Foundation to build a chair for their next annual fundraising event. The reveal will be held in Las Vegas this May: http://www.tigerwoodsfoundation.org/events/tiger-jam/home.
Other notable clients include:
• Multiple Major League Baseball (MLB) managers, players and scouts.
• NCAA college programs
• Washington Nationals Dream Foundation
• New York Yankees foundation Homecoming
• U.S. Cellular promotion with 5ea. rockers at ball parks around the country Text to enter to win. Winner announced at the end of the season.
Danny’s rocker is a one of a kind creation, with expert craftsmanship taking place right here in our midst in Astoria, Oregon. Supple Rockers has built one of the most unique and timeless pieces of baseball lore that you will ever find. It is not only handcrafted to perfection, with immense pride and care, but it is also nurtured by a heart of excellence. This is what drives Danny Supple. He not only loves baseball, but he loves “getting it right.” It’s the essence of who he is and the magic behind the work of his hands.