If you've got the balls, we've got the bats!

  • 1908

    Solen Lewis Doolittle born near Aylmer Ontario in 1854 arrived in St. Marys in 1905 and by 1907 was planning to establish a handle and hockey stick factory with the Town Council considering a $6000.00 loan bylaw. The company was incorporated on March 30, 1908 and Mr. Doolittle purchased a site from Weir and Weir on James Street just north of their flax mill. Construction on the building commenced at once and it was opened on June 25, 1908.

  • 1912

    A disastrous fire leveled the factory on January 24, 1912 at the height of their business and production ceased over the winter into the spring and summer of 1912, when they took an option on the Weir flax mill which was located near the original plant. By August 29, 1912 they had completed their move and were planning on enlarging it to accommodate the handle, hockey stick and St. Marys baseball bat lines.

  • 1919

    Mr. Doolittle died on Saturday October, 25th 1919 after being sick for a short time with pneumonia. He was 65 years old and left a widow, 3 daughters and a step-son in Montreal. This set back did not affect the operation of the factory which was being capably managed by Mr. Currie who resided at the corner of Ontario and Queen Street. Like all industries, the business felt the bite of the depression with sales tailing off into the early 1930’s.

  • 1933

    Seagrams, through their Canada Barrels and Kegs Company purchased the St. Mary’s Wood Specialty Co on July 12, 1933 and the employees and machinery were transferred to their Hespeler Wood Products plant. Some of the key employees were Russell Seaton, Tom Marquis, Bob Noble and Miss Grace Crozier who had joined St. Marys as a young girl. She spent her entire working career at these two plants and retired in 1972 as head of the baseball bat line a significant accomplishment before woman’s equality in the workplace. She was the only woman who worked in the plant for 25 years and added a significant dimension to the Hespeler operation.

  • 1935

    On January 7, 1935 the company changed its name to Hespeler-St.Mary’s Wood Specialties Ltd and its catalogue that year listed 20 hockey sticks models with new names like Mic Mac, Green Flash and Professional. St Mary’s lines included 10 high-grade hickory axe & sledge handles and 29 ball bat models in Professional “Superpower” baseball, softball and boys models.

  • 1958

    During the 1950’s the company phased out the tool products and concentrated on hockey sticks and baseball bats. At this time, with few competitors, Hespeler was considered one of the leaders in the industry celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1958. Bat “models” included Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Al Rosen, Eddie Mathews, Duke Snider, and Stan Musial.

  • 1972

    On July 5, 1972 Cooper purchased Hespeler-St. Mary’s Wood Specialties Ltd from the Seagram family, who still controlled the business through their Waterloo Woods Products Company. The name remained the same as Cooper operated the plant as the Hespeler -St. Mary’s Wood Specialties Division until 1979 when it became a part of Cooper Canada Ltd.

  • 1985

    September 1985 when Tony Fernandez was the 1st Pro Player to use a Cooper Bat. Unfortunately for Cooper, the league hadn’t approved its use, so Fernandez went back to the dugout for a new bat. On March 27th, 1986 the Cooper bat was accepted by the Major League Playing Rules Committee for use in Major League baseball games. On April 11th, 1986 in a game against world-series champions, Kansas City Royals, Buck Martinez of the Toronto Blue Jays had his first hit of the season off a Cooper bat and this was the 1st Major League hit ever off a Canadian made bat. Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos won the 1986 NL Batting Championship using the newly introduced “Cooper” bat.

  • 1987

    Paul Molitor was also slamming a Cooper bat during his 39 game hitting streak in 1987. By 1988, after 3 short years, the company had grabbed 30% of the professional bat market. Cooper limited their sales to 130 players and 8500 bats/season, which was their maximum capacity at their Cambridge (Hespeler) plant. They remained #2 behind Louisville. Year after year, more and more major league stars like Kelly Gruber, Jesse Barfield, Cecil Fielder, Joe Carter and others put their faith in Cooper to deliver. By 1995 over 70,000 major league bats had been made for over 850 major league players in the last 10 years.

  • 1996

    In 1996 the Cooper line was discontinued at this plant. The corporate decision to transfer production to another location led to a decline from 130 to less than 5 Pro players in just one year. The Pro ball bat machinery in Cambridge started to gather sawdust drifting gently in from the Pro stick machines still running and gone were the days of watching 12 of 18 starters in a game using Cooper bats.

  • 1999

    In the spring of 1999 the silence was broken when long time Cooper Plant Manager Ross Huehn decided it was time to dust off the machinery and restart the tradition. Mr. Huehn began working at Cooper on July 19th, 1973 as Shipping & Receiving Supervisor, was promoted to Production Manager in 1974 in charge of inventory control of hockey stocks and baseball bats in 2 Canadian and 1 US warehouse along with production scheduling. He was promoted to Plant Manager in Jan of 1976.

  • 2000

    At the start of the year 2000, KR3 began selling bats to Independent teams in the US and manufacturing for other well-known brand labels. As well as joining with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, becoming their exclusive bat supplier and providing them with all of their Induction Day bats each year.

  • 2001

    KR3 was approved and received their major league license on Feb 2, 2001 and spent time in 2001 and 2002 sampling and working with major league players, while keeping the doors open for the local players in the area and in doing so quickly noticed that amateur players had no access to good quality wooden bats. So we began offering major league quality to all of our customers and watched these teams begin winning championships.

  • 2004

    In 2004 Mr. Huehn decided to move his operation back to the Hespeler plant. Being back in the factory where it all started and having Mr. Huehn now working at KR3 full time, business tripled in 2005, its first year back in Hespeler. The silence that once was, is now filled by the roar of the machines as they are back turning 27 000 bats per year.

Phone: 519.658.5253
Email: sales@KR3bats.com

63 Sheffield St, Cambridge, Ontario. N3C 1C4