“Swinging for Sean”

As a bat craftsman, I get the opportunity to design and make the essential tool that is required for hitting a baseball. My goal is always to create a bat as unique as the individual who will use it. I was commissioned to make a bat for Andrew Widiker, of Wisconsin. Andrew wanted a unique bat that not only met his baseball needs but one that would also honor a fallen hero, his cousin Army Specialist Sean R. Cutsforth. On December 15th, 2010 Sean gave his life in the defense of our nation while in Afghanistan from wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire. Sean was assigned to the 187th Infantry Regiment, “The Rakkasans”, of Fort Campbell, KY.

Sean was born at Fort Belvoir VA, and grew up in Prince William County, VA. Sean was an avid athlete and loved football, swimming, the outdoors and especially baseball. In his memory the Brentsville District High School renamed their baseball field “Army Specialist, Sean Russell Cutsforth Memorial Field”.

When Sean was in his third semester in Virginia Wesleyan College on a baseball scholarship, he decided to join the Army. He had the choice to stay in college to earn a degree and continue to enjoy playing baseball, but he felt that serving his country was more important. That decision speaks volumes about his character and his sense of duty that has propelled many young men and women like Sean to serve in the defense of our country. I can relate to this because I myself made the same decision when I decided to join the US Air Force seventeen years ago.

At the core of Andrew’s bat design; he wanted Sean to be remembered in a way that honors the things he stood for, such as patriotism, The Army Values, Unit and his ultimate sacrifice. Andrew requested US Flag decals, elements of the US Army, the Rakkasans unit logo, and most importantly the text “Swinging for Sean”. Rather than just putting a few decals with a generic font on the bat and calling it the day, I felt it was more fitting for the entire bat to have a patriotic theme, centered on honoring Sean’s sacrifice.

Based on what Andrew wanted, I provided a hand-drawn sketch with the following elements: Red handle, dark blue barrel, and white and red decals with the praying soldier on the battle cross and the text “Swinging For Sean”. Each of the seven stars represents one of The Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Since there were many elements to fit on the barrel, I used the back of the bat for the Rakassan unit logo, 4 stars and an additional “Swinging For Sean”.

I added Sean’s favorite number “30” on the bottom of the bat knob. This type of design will also work very well on a natural tone bat with the vinyl decals in red, white and blue.

There are many bat makers and companies all over the US that Andrew could have chosen for this project, so I consider myself blessed to have been given this opportunity. As I went through the process of designing and crafting Andrew’s bat, I felt as if it was meant for me to create this bat all along. Andrew who lives in Wisconsin did not know I currently work at Fort Belvoir, the place Sean was born. He also did not know that I live and make bats in Prince William County which happened to be where Sean grew up. Lastly, Sean is buried in Arlington National Cemetery also located here in Virginia. To me none of this was coincidental, and has ultimately motivated me to share Andrew’s story, which in turn helps keep Sean’s memory alive.

The combined design process and bat making took about 4 weeks, between exchanging text messages, emails and revisions. In the end, it was very satisfying to help Andrew create a remembrance of his cousin Sean which will serve as an honor to him every time he swings this Baret Bat. As a military vet and civil servant for the US Army, there’s a rewarding feeling of knowing that the “Swinging For Sean” bat is more than just a hitting tool, but rather a memorial that brings comfort and happiness to Andrew in honoring his fallen cousin.

Juan C. Baret, Founder of Baret Bats.

You can order your very own custom bat at www.baretbats.com

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