Behind The Scenes

While Ramirez pursues first contact, tree-to-bat feature proving to be a hit

There’s no bigger Hanley Ramirez fan this weekend than ESPN feature producer Chris Bloxom.

Ramirez, the owner of the bat showcased in Bloxom’s most recent project, could help provide a happy ending to the six-minute feature (above), with a hit against Cincinnati this weekend. (The final piece will run Sunday, April 15 on SportsCenter.)

The story traces a Louisville Slugger’s beginnings as an ash tree in a Pennsylvania forest and was previewed on Front Row and debuted on Baseball Tonight on Wednesday.

That night on ESPN, the Miami Marlins third baseman went 0-for-4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He followed that outing with an 0-for-4 against the Reds on Thursday.

“We’re still trying to figure out what to do on the update, and my editor, Jason Sanchez, and I have been grinding pretty hard now that he’s hitless,” Bloxom said.

At least the feature has been a hit with fans than — it was Front Row’s most popular post Wednesday — and the bat’s parent company appreciated the portrayal.

“Our people were blown away — the photography, editing, script, narration, and music, everything was amazing,” said Rick Redman, VP Corporate Communications, Hillerich & Bradsby Co. (Louisville Slugger).

“Chris had an amazing vision for this piece and worked very hard to see it through. He knew what he wanted, was meticulous in his preparation and gave tremendous direction to his crew.”

Now, if only Ramirez could direct a ball into the outfield for the lumber’s first hit.

Still, the piece has generated buzz on social media according to Redman. “People were Tweeting us that the piece gave them goose bumps.”

Fans sent questions to Front Row about the feature, and Bloxom has provided some answers.

Barry: If only about 4 percent of the pieces actually make Major League quality bats, any idea what happens to the other 96 percent?
The other 96 percent are turned into adult league bats, little league bats, souvenir bats and even mini-bats for giveaways. They make use of every billet of wood. It’s just a certain grade and quality is needed to make major league ones

Christopher: What is the dubstep song that is playing when the bat arrives in Louisville?
A track from the ESPN Music library. It’s unavailable for sale.

Grego: What other songs are used?
The commercial song in the middle was by M83 called “OutroSong.” It’s pretty obscure.

Danny: Who was the narrator?
A Chicago-based voice-over personality, Norm Woodel.

On Opening Day against the Cardinals, Marlins star Hanley Ramirez did not have luck with the featured bat.
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