By John Lauritsen

NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (WCCO) — Despite being known for his pitching skills, Lyle Lambrecht now spends his days surrounded by bats. They hang like wooden stalactites from the ceiling of his New Prague shop.

In 1963, Lyle’s town team in St. Benedict won a league championship. He played amateur ball for decades.

“My years with Lyle have been baseball,” said his wife, Pat. “From the time we got married to the time he retired. Every Sunday with the kids to the ball games.”

That hasn’t just continued since Lyle retired. If anything, it’s ramped up. America’s past-time has become Lyle’s past-time: He makes personalized wooden baseball bats.

When asked how many he’s made, he says the number is probably in the thousands, adding that he “never kept track.”

“I always put the weight, the length, and the handle thickness on every bat so a guy knows what he’s got,” Lyle said.

In the early 2000s, around the time Minnesota’s amateur teams started using wooden bats, Lyle started making them. And there was a bit of a learning curve.

“I made a machine to turn bats first. That turned out fairly decent but then my friend bought a CNC machine and I used his bats, because his was more accurate than mine,” Lyle said.

“I do a little sanding, cut the two ends off and then take it into the spray booth for finishing,” said Ted Nytes of Home Town Bats.

(credit: CBS)

A few years ago Lyle partnered with another retired town leaguer. Ted now makes home grade wood bats out of birch, ash and maple.

Like a pitcher and a catcher, he and Lyle now work together making custom bats for amateur, high school and little league teams across the country. It only takes about 5 minutes to make a bat and another 6 or 7 for Lyle to engrave it.

“He’s just a good guy,” Nytes said. “If you buy a bat from him, you can expect to sit down and talk with him for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s just how it is and everybody knows it.”

Even major leaguers know that.

Lyle made bats with stats for Twins legend Harmon Killebrew, batting champion Joe Mauer, and he even made a home plate chock full of stats for Bert Blyleven.

“When Bert saw the plate he called his wife over. ‘Hey, come over here you got to see this,’” Lyle said.

Much of what Lyle makes finds its way onto the diamond, while other personalized creations find their way into trophy cabinets. Some of his work now decorates the walls of Clancy’s Bar and Pizza Parlor in Jordan as part of the “Over 35” Amateur Hall of Fame.

Lyle’s handiwork offers memories that he himself can relate to. Even though he no longer plays baseball, he couldn’t be closer to the sport. For Lyle, every morning that he walks into his shop is like walking into his own field of dreams.

“Great retirement. Great retirement. I don’t think anyone could have a better retirement,” Lyle said.

One batting tip from Lyle: He says you want to hit the ball on the edge of the grain, because that’s where the bat has the most strength.

For more information on Lyle Lambrecht’s bats, click here.

John Lauritsen