Germany immigrant Joe Kren settled in Syracuse in the late 19th century and worked as a woodworker on many downtown landmark buildings. Kren began manufacturing baseball bats in the late 1920s, a skill he learned by working on an industrial lathe in the 1890s.
By the 1940s, he was producing more than 100,000 baseball bats a year. Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx were among Kren’s high profile baseball clients.
Many major leaguers in the first half of the 20th century used his bats, called Kren's Specials, which were made in a factory on Bear Street in Syracuse . He founded his own company which produced baseball and softball bats plus police billy clubs. His four sons never expressed interest in the art of making bats and the business ended with Kren died in 1953. His beloved bat company was sold a year later and another Syracuse sports endeavor became legend.
Entrepreneur and baseball enthusiast Bob Ross purchased the Kren logo and began to reproduce bat racks based on original designs. To spot a Kren, look for the distinctive diamond logo in the middle of the bat.
Today, Kren bats are highly prized collectors’ items. At one time, an original Lou Gehrig Kren Special sold for over $ 20,000.