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Warstic baseball bats become Deep Ellum’s newest draw

Deep Ellum is known for a lot of things but until now, baseball wasn't one of them. At the corner of Malcolm X Blvd. and Main St., this sport recently staked out a spot.

DALLAS – Deep Ellum is known for a lot of things but until now, baseball wasn’t one of them. At the corner of Malcolm X Blvd. and Main St., this sport recently staked out a spot.

“I didn’t make this up, but people have commented that we’ve kind of combined culture and sports,” said Ben Jenkins, founder of Warstic. Jenkins, a brand designer by trade and a former minor league player, started the company seven years ago.

“I mean the first year we were in business back in 2011, GQ magazine even found it and made us one of their favorite products of the year. Which I thought was funny because to me it wasn’t real business yet,” he said. But his bats caught on.

Ian Kinsler, second baseman for the Los Angeles Angels, invested in Warstic two and a half years ago. The third business partner is guitarist Jack White of the White Stripes who’s a big Detroit Tigers fan.

“Ian used our bat for the first time in 2016. I think he was playing the Marlins. First at bat, he actually got a hit, little line drive over third base. Even his wife texted me within 30-seconds because it was just exciting; for him, for her and the families. You know we did it. Then his second at bat, he hit a home run. We lost our minds,” Jenkins remembered.

But Kinsler isn’t the only major leaguer swinging Warstics today. “I could make an All-Star team out of them – Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, George Springer swung our bat a lot, Matt Kemp who’s having an amazing year this year, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas,” Jenkins said.

The company’s name – Warstic – is as unique as the bat it sells. “There’s really nothing more serious in life than war, to be honest with you,” said Jenkins, who has brainstormed and created many logos for clients. “I just thought what if you brought that mentality of a warrior to baseball. The complexity of coming up with a name that’s never existed before is a little different. It’s one of those things I do in my mind. I start to put words together. And war and stick came together. I put them together but I took the ‘k’ off. It became something that was new.”

Jenkins doesn’t sign his bats either. Instead, each one has two stripes on them. “So, we call this a war stripe. It’s kind of like this side is the past. It’s over. You struck out yesterday. You’ve got to forget about it. The other is the future. The future’s not written yet,” he explained.

Jenkins always had a passion for baseball. In high school, he played for the Lake Highlands Wildcats. In college, it was at Mississippi State and Oklahoma. Jenkins even made it to the minor leagues and the farm team for the Philadelphia Phillies.

But several years ago, as a designer, Jenkins combined his love of art and baseball and began creating colorful, high-end bats to reconnect with the game he loved.

“A buddy of mine and I were at the batting cage with them yesterday and joking about how if we had these bats when we were kids, life might have been different, right? We might have made it all the way,” said Sandy Schwartz, a father from McKinney, laughing. He bought bats for his two boys last weekend.

“I think I will hit better line drives and more home runs,” said Joey Schwartz, 10.

“When you hit the ball, the sound it makes – it sounds like it explodes. That’s what you want to happen. You want to hit it in the right part, so you hit it correctly,” added little brother Arie, 9.

Warstic’s metal bats started outselling wood bats a couple years ago, Jenkins said. The Deep Ellum storefront is the first in the country for the bat maker.

The existing showroom is only a pop-up. Warstic has 10,000 square feet in all at the corner of Malcolm X Blvd. and Main St., where it’s planning a permanent showroom. But here’s the cool thing about this property. It has a basement which is said to be the only one in Deep Ellum, where Warstic is planning a speakeasy. All of it should be ready by the start of next year’s baseball season.

“And honestly, beyond baseball, we’re about to get into softball, by next year we’ll be into lacrosse, hockey. I’m making some golf drivers, snowboards. I’m having fun with it,” Jenkins added. In a neighborhood known for nightlife – sports have taken root and are becoming one of Deep Ellum’s newest draws.

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