The $100 Bat That Could Save The Major Leagues Millions

It’s April 9, 2013. Gordon Beckham of the White Sox stands at the plate facing down the Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The promising young hitter has weathered a tough few years of disappointing averages, but his 2013 season is off to a solid start. He’s batting over .300, meaning it could be the season of the turnaround, the year that redirects his career to come.

A 2-2 fastball fires from the mound. Beckham swings big, spinning almost 360 degrees before hunching over in pain. No one knows why. Moments later, Beckham would be in the dugout with trainers staring at his hand with a strange, clinical detachment, curious how his body had betrayed him.

In reality, the pain had little to do with his mega swing. Beckham actually sustained an injury on the pitch before–a typical high outside fastball that he appeared to innocuously foul.

“When I swung through the ball, I definitely felt it,” he tells me later. “It did not feel good.”

Beckham, who’d never broken a bone in his life, fractured his hamate–a bone in the wrist all too familiar to major league players for its propensity to crack unexpectedly. He’d require surgery and couldn’t be back to play for seven weeks. His turnaround was stopped in its tracks.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED

At the same time, a graphic designer named Grady Phelan was formatting a Kickstarter campaign for an invention that had consumed the last decade of his life, along with $125,000 in personal savings. Called the ProXR, his patented creation tilted the knob of a bat by 23 degrees specifically to prevent the fairly common hamate fracture that Beckham had incurred.