Willimatic, CT—Eight-year old Jacob Dunnack is just a regular kid who likes playing baseball. But playing the game hasn’t been easy for him.
As a newborn infant, doctors diagnosed Jacob with a congenital heart defect. One of three surgeries performed before his first birthday brought on a stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed on his right side.
By the time Jacob turned six, he had developed a love of many sports, including baseball. The idea for
a new baseball bat came to him following a trip to his grandmother’s house when Jacob brought his bat, but forgot the balls. “It’s hard for him to carry both the bat and the balls at the same time because he has limited use of his right hand,” says his mother, Lisa Dunnack.
Lisa recalls that as they were driving home from the grandmother’s home later that day, she asked Jacob if he had any ideas for the upcoming Invention Convention at his grade school. “Without hesitating, he said that his invention was going to be a baseball bat that opened up like luggage, so he could store baseballs inside and never forget them at home.”
Jacob’s idea for a baseball bat was the beginning of the patent-pending JD Batball, (www.jacobsportz.com.) which became available during the 2001 Christmas season at Toys “R” Us stores.
“Jacob’s mom was the one that really made it happen,” says Brownie Johnson, a Toys “R” Us brand manager. “She came to us with Jacob’s idea and did many of the same things any manufacturer would do, like get the concept developed in a model.”
Lisa contacted Pete Wood, who is a friend of a friend and a product development specialist at Zzorco Consulting (Newmarket, NH). His background includes materials re-search at Dupont and design work for Black and Decker and HomeLite.
Wood recalls that the Dunnack’s prototype was an oversized plastic baseball bat with the top cut off and taped back together with duct tape. “I refined the design, complete with a detailed double snap-lock design and the grip for the bat, in a matter of hours,” says Wood. “That’s pretty amazing when you consider that I had just switched from 2D to 3D.” It was the first project he had attempted in 3D CAD.
After completing an initial design in SolidWorks (Concord, MA) 3D solid modeling software, Wood developed a 1/3-scale model of the bat with ping-pong balls in place of baseballs. The Dunnacks presented the model to Toys “R” Us with images of the design created in SolidWorks’ PhotoWorks. The national toy store chain placed an order for 12,000.
“Pete also created a web site, which everybody could access for viewing updates and changes to the design,” says Lisa. “It’s taken quite some time, but it’s exciting for Jacob and the whole family to finally see it on the shelves.”
Toys “R” Us Johnson points out that good toys are a team effort. “In this case, everyone worked together to get the job done. I knew Jacob’s history, but I didn’t look at the toy that way. I didn’t matter. He’s just a kid with a great idea.”