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Dugout Mugs Continues Massive Growth, Expansion into MLB Stadiums

As former professional baseball player Randall Thompson sat in the dugout as a pitching coach at his former college, he saw sawed-off bat barrels lying about, leftover after another coach was creating a training tool. That’s where the idea of Dugout Mugs was born — a drinking mug from a hollowed out a bat barrel. But it wasn’t until January 2017 the business started. Now nearly three years later, Dugout Mugs has doubled in growth every year behind its patented product and entered into a licensing agreement with MLB, MiLB and the MLB Player’s Association.

The growth of Dugout Mugs is only getting started.

“Randall dreamt this up in a dugout, ironically, in 2014, but it was a matter of putting a team in place and building around us with people who saw our vision, believed in us, believed in the product and wanted to put their head down and kick ass and get after it,” said Kris Dehnert, CEO and partner. “Our product and reputation speak for itself.”

The company started out with the signature Dugout Mug product and still 80 percent of the business centers around the mug, although Thompson and Dehnert have also created wine glasses in the shape of mini baseball bats and knob shot glasses made from the knobs of bats.

The Dugout Mug, though, features the same birch billet used for any traditional bat. The company owns a custom-made drill gun at a facility in Quebec City, Canada, that bores out the barrels, which were lathed the same as a bat. The product is then shipped to Dugout Mug’s Central Florida headquarters where the team then finishes it off, adding team and personal customization.

“I have always had a strong desire to be creative and start a business,” Thompson said. “There is a ton of work that goes into accomplishing something like this and the same goes for your baseball career. You get lost in the process of things and before you know it you look up and are playing professional baseball. The same applies with business. You put your head down and start to really work at something and you look up and have a pretty sweet company.”

Popular for gifts, Dehnert said that the company’s ability to ship a customized product 24 hours from receiving the order really helps push the custom side of the gifting business. Each mug, with a lifetime guarantee, can hold a 12-ounce beverage and comes laser-engraved with team logos, player signatures or personal customization.

As of October 2018, Dugout Mugs entered into a licensing agreement with MLB, allowing them the exclusive right to place team and league marks on Dugout Mugs products. It also opened up the opportunity to enter into MLB stadiums across the league. “It has opened doors and made an impact on our business,” Dehnert said.

A baseball-focused product created by a former baseball player and backed by a company staffed with plenty of former professional ballplayers, Dugout Mugs is really embracing the sport, whether the MLB agreement of by working with current and former MLB players and Hall of Famers. From sitting atop the desk on the set of the MLB Network to being seen in the background of ESPN 30 for 30 shows to turning into must-have gifts, Dehnert said they are really working to continue the exposure of the product.

“We are always looking to work with other fellow baseball people,” Thompson said. “We keep it really close to the game.”

Dugout Mugs partners with big-name players, such as David Ortiz selling the product to raise money for his foundation, or one of nine Hall of Famers and other big leaguers‚ from Nolan Ryan and Ozzie Smith to Anthony Rizzo and Roger Clemens to build awareness. MLB teams and large corporations are helping with that too. The Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers have all ordered mugs, thousands at a time, or use as gifts, often to season-ticket holders. Big-name companies have signed on too, from Budweiser to Oracle.

“With bigger names buying our product and with our gifting focus,” Dehnert said, “it is getting more and more units into the market.”

Dehnert said that whether the company’s own initiative to donate money to youth baseball or working with Hall of Famers and current MiLB and MLB teams, the baseball circle remains in constant motion at Dugout Mugs. “That is the real story behind the bat mug,” Dehnert said. “What is behind it is baseball, a baseball player and collaboration. We are not playing around, we are a good story, a true story.”

To learn more about Dugout Mugs, their MLB collection as well as their Cheers for Charity, click the links below:

Home Page -
MLB Collection -
Cheers To Charity -
Gifting -

Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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