Artist Matthew Lee Rosen takes the Boom Stick out to the diamond.
When I was 14 or 15 years old, my friends and I used to challenge each other to epic home run derby battles… using wiffle ball bats and tennis balls. We’d set up home plate on the street, and on certain neighborhood blocks we spray painted bases. The home run markers would vary, but they often consisted of hitting the ball over roofs. Simple, yet effective… and difficult to challenge.
I wanted some extra juice in my standard skinny yellow wiffle ball bat, so I devised a way to cut open the stop, stuff it with newspaper, and then seal it back together with a hairspray-can blow torch. That was my first custom.
Flash forward nearly 30 years later, and I could hardly contain my excitement when Zak Fellman, from Pillbox Bat Co. in Minnesota, connected with me to design some custom baseball bats! Marrying my baseball card artwork with Zak’s quality craftsmanship seemed like a no-brainer.
We spoke at length and decided I would create some products to connect with fans who shared my nostalgia for the smell of chewing gum and card stock from the 1980’s junk wax era. A secondary objective would focus on both the Twins and Cubs.
I immediately rushed to the drawing board and cranked out a number of concepts. Zak selected a group of them to produce, and the results of his craftsmanship are fantastic:)
The Rosen Artist Series by the Pillbox Bat Company
I wanted to pull from some of my favorite card elements, and also reference my Cubs fandom. The 1982 Topps hockey stick-like stripe design was a must-have on my checklist. So, the Twins Future stars card, featuring Kent Hrbek, was a natural for Pillbox. And, I couldn’t create a series of baseball card inspired designs without including 1987 Donruss. That set is among the most iconic in my mind. Heck, I carry a ’87 Maddux Rated Rookie on the back of my phone. Yes… really, I do. It’s the greatest card of all-time in my humble opinion.
Of course, I also had to make a bubble gum reference… how could I not? I’m the king of baseball card bubble gum art. When I was a kid, one of the pleasures of opening a new pack of baseball cards was getting to chew the hard stick of gum inside! Bazooka gum was first distributed shortly after World War II in the U.S. by the Topps Company in Brooklyn, and marketed with their Bazooka Joe comic-strip character.
So, I repurposed the Bazooka logo to create the Boom Stick. A bat made for launching balls over the fence!
When it came to the Cubs… I wanted to focus on Wrigley instead of the team itself. I borrowed bits and pieces of iconic elements from the ballpark, including the decorative border on the Marquee and my nod to Jack Brickhouse on the foul pole.
I didn’t stop quite there though! I sent a handful of other fun concepts over to Zak and he chose to make my Full Count retro scoreboard bat… resembling the pixelated images from the late 70’s and 80’s. It was a cool way to round out the new Rosen Artist Series collection.
I feel quite honored for the opportunity to work directly with Pillbox on this project. The baseball bats Zak and his team create are absolutely stunning, likely exceeding their own high standards. I certainly look forward to working more together on future projects!