In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun wrote Connecticut-based Tucci Lumber Founder & Owner Pete Tucci has built the company into "a supplier for more than 150 major league hitters, thus becoming one of the rising number of homespun bat producers who have begun to gain traction in an industry long identified with only one name: Louisville Slugger." Thirty-eight companies have "been approved as bat manufacturers" this season for MLB, up from 32 in '13 and 29 in '05. Fifteen "were started within the last 10 years," and six "have emerged" since '10. Tucci's output is "up to 140 maple and ash bats per day, which equated to about $630,000 in sales last year" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/6).
A TRICK UP HIS SLEEVE? During the first set of the Roger Federer-Milos Raonic Wimbledon semifinal match, ESPN's Chris Fowler noted Raonic was wearing a white sleeve on his right arm under his shirt. Fowler said Raonic began wearing the sleeve, which "conforms with the Wimbledon dress code," after taking some "medication for a rash on that arm" during a tournament at Indian Wells earlier this year. Fowler said, "There's no reason to wear it now, other than he says it feels good or maybe superstition." ESPN's John McEnroe added, "Maybe he's got an endorsement deal" ("Wimbledon," ESPN, 7/4).
HIS OWN BOSS: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported fashion brand Hugo Boss is "set to end its association" with the McLaren F1 team -- "one of the longest running partnerships in sport" -- to link up with the Mercedes F1 team next year. The partnership dates back to '81. While Boss is not a title sponsor or major source of funding, the brand "has been a big part of McLaren's identity through fashion shoots and as a provider of team apparel" (REUTERS, 7/6).
UNITED STAKES: The BBC's Mike Keegan reported adidas, Nike and Warrior "remain in talks" with EPL club Manchester United "over the right to take over" as its official kit supplier when the existing agreement with Nike expires next season. A figure of US$1B over 10 years "has been discussed" (BBC.com, 7/3).