Former Minor Leaguer Creating Barrel Mugs to Support Local Special Needs Center
Wes Wilkerson, a former minor league pitcher, hasn’t left baseball far behind. As owner of Wilkie’s Outfitters in Lebanon, Tennessee, Wilkerson has kept his hands in the outdoor world.
But as his wife continues working with the local Empower Me Center for special needs and their effort to create Miracle League Field, Wilkerson wanted to create a little something that ties his love of baseball with a meaningful cause. So, Wilkerson put his own little twist on a Clutch Mug, a barrel mug made from bat billets from Nashville’s Old Hickory Bat Company.
While he isn’t the first to create a barrel mug, he has spruced it up by putting a knob on the end of it for an added touch and increased stability. He also customizes all the mugs, using maple, ash and birch billets from down the road at Old Hickory and then hand-turning them to hollow them out and add personalized messages and artwork on the outside.
Having only been making the Clutch Mug for about three months, he started with a 10.5-inch version that holds 12 ounces, but also now makes a coffee mug-sized style at 5.5 inches that holds eight to 10 ounces. Wilkerson adds three coats of a FDA-approved epoxy inside the barrel to keep the mug in top-working order.
Wilkerson enjoys the hand-crafting of the product. Recently, he created a Clutch Mug as a Father’s Day gift with a bass fisherman on one side and a personalized message on the other.
What gets him most excited about the new line, though, is the connection to the Empower Me Center, with a portion of each sale of the Clutch Mug headed their direction.
“The bats are awesome, for sure, but my main objective is to give back to a cause,” he says. “Every month we are going to cut them a check.”
Wilkerson is still working to get his Wilkie’s Outfitters website able to handle orders, but for now he plans to communicate with anyone interested in a personalized Clutch Mug via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.