Success Story, Illinois –
Swansea resident Todd “Dutch” Eschman is batting a thousand as the first-place winner of a regional business plan competition that is driving his entrepreneurial venture toward success. Eschman, 44, is the sole proprietor of Old Dutch Classic Bats (www.dutchbats.com), a manufacturer of custom bats for vintage baseball players. Vintage baseball is a rapidly growing sport that recreates the game as it was played in the 1860s by replicating rules, period uniforms, style of play, language and equipment – including bats.
The entrepreneur’s business idea to manufacture and sell custom-made bats came from his passion to play vintage baseball, which began three years ago. “I’ve always played baseball and have coached my kids’ teams,” said Eschman, whose day job is as general manager of community publications for the Belleville News-Democrat and who began his journalism career as a sportswriter. “In August 2011, I got wind of a vintage baseball game between the St. Louis Unions and Lafayette Square Cyclone BBC and decided to check it out. After watching one game, I was hooked.”
A year later, Eschman and friends formed a team and started competing in local leagues. Eschman and his friends were not the only ones fascinated with vintage baseball. The game’s quick growth led to the formation of the Vintage Base Ball Association with 161 member clubs across 26 states, most of which include multiple teams of 15 to 20 players each. This surge in popularity motivated Eschman to take his passion for the game to the next level. (more…)