To understand the history of DeMarini, you need to know the man behind the brand.
Ray DeMarini was one-of-a-kind. At the age of 40, playing on his company softball team quickly turned into a full-blown obsession with the sport. To become a competitive tournament softball player at 5’6” and 185 lbs., Ray knew he had to train smarter to hold his own amongst other hulking players. His scientific approach to training, a 96 mph batting speed and a bombastic attitude quickly earned him the reputation of a savage competitor among the biggest guys in his league.
Once on the pro circuit, it wasn’t long before Ray was discovered by ESPN producer and director Erich Lyttle. Impressed by his knowledge and technique, Lyttle tapped Ray to host a series of instructional softball videos called “Ray DeMarini’s Reflex Hitting System,”—still the most successful home video in ESPN’s history.
“The top bat manufacturers weren’t innovating. I realized there was a great opportunity to create a technical bat for the sophisticated ball player.”
Leveraging his name recognition and earnings from the videos, Ray turned his attention to creating an earth-shattering high-performance bat. He had the gumption but he needed an engineer—or as Ray put it—“a boot-strapping rocket scientist who could build an empire with pocket change.”
Ray’s friend Mike Eggiman, a Freightliner engineer, was adept at making something out of nothing. He seemed like the perfect person to help Ray build his empire on a shoestring budget. Soon DeMarini Sports would begin operating out of a dirt-floored barn. “There was no heat,” Ray recalled, “but every once in a while we’d feel the hot breath of a cow standing behind us.”
The two had great success with their tag-team operation, and as the company grew their collaborative dynamic stayed the same. With Ray at the helm and Mike as Chief Engineer, DeMarini Sports went on to deliver a series of industry firsts: the first high-performance youth bat, the first multi-wall bat and the first high-performance bat for massive players.
“Business is like sports. You’d better be ready to compete or you’re going to get your head handed to you.”
While competitors’ corporate executives kicked their feet up in fancy corner offices, Ray split his time between a windowless office next to a batting cage and out on the field—hitting balls for up to 6 hours a day.
Ray was the personification of insane dedication. Even after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 1998, Ray kept working. When the cancer eventually claimed his eye, he was still out at the field—hitting in an eyepatch.
Ray’s intensity and drive remains at the core of the company today. From a dirt-floored shack to today’s 80,000 sq. ft. industrial complex, DeMarini keeps checks checking off milestones at a clip that would make Ray proud.
1987 - The 5' 6" Softball Giant: Known among avid players as the 5' 6" softball giant, Ray DeMarini's unbelievable on field performance and bombastic attitude land him a partnership with ESPN. Together they create a landmark instructional video: Ray DeMarini REFLEX HITTING SYSTEM.
1989 - DeMarini is Founded: Ray sets his sights on creating high performance bats for the masses. Begins building bats for his friends out of his garage. Ray founds DEMARINI SPORTS, headquarted in Hillsboro OR; coins company motto Insane Dedication to Performance.
1990 - DeMarini Expands: Ray enlists the help of engineer and then colleague Mike Eggiman. The two operate out of a dirt floored barn, building their own equipment as they go along.
1991 - Full Time: Ray leaves his corporate cubicle to build bats full time.
1993 - The DeMarini Doublewall: DeMarini puts Homeruns within the reach of the masses with the world's first doublewall bat - The DeMarini Doublewall. The proprietary technology takes off, shattering sales records.
1996 - The Greatest Bat Ever Made: DeMarini pushes associations over the brink with the Ultimate Distance. Banned by officials and hoarded by players, the Ultimate Distance earns repute as the greatest bat ever made.
1998 - Nationwide Recognition: Ray and DeMarini's unprecedented success is spotlighted in major publications across the country, including People, Playboy and Men's Fitness. DeMarini moves out of Ray's garage into a new facility with 25% of the square footage dedicated to the hitting cage.
1999 - Made in the USA: Determined to keep manufacturing in the USA, Ray refuses to sell DeMarini to Nike and other sporting goods companies who would move the operations overseas.
2000 - Joining Forces: DeMarini joins forces with Wilson Sporting Goods, creating a slowpitch, fastpitch and baseball powerhouse with development and manufacturing still based in Hillsboro, OR.
2001 - King of Softball: Ray loses his battle with cancer at the age of 55, 12 years after founding DeMarini Sports.
2002 - First Ever Two Piece Bat: DeMarini takes the industry by storm with the first ever two piece bat. Built with Half + Half technology, the F2 combines a carbon composite handle with a DoubleWall Alloy barrel to control weight distribution.
2004 - The Bat that Bends: Half + Half technology hits baseball stadiums with the creation of the Vexxum baseball bat - The Bat that Bends. Arizona State becomes the first perennial national power program to swing DeMarini.
2005 - EVO AX: EVO AX commands the field as the first ever all composite two piece bat. Half + Half technology combines a flex tuned composite handle with an evolution composite barrel for unmatched handling and the biggest sweet spot in softball.
2006 - OSU Wins with DeMarini: Oregon State University wins the first of back to back CWS using DeMArini bats exclusively. OSU went on the win again in 2018. DeMarini launches the composite barrel "Phenix" bat putting the brand on the map in the fastpitch market. ASU Sofbtall team signs with DeMarini, becoming the first big time softball team on the national level.
2007 - 3 DTeams. 3 Divisions. 3 National Champions: With National Championship wins from Oregon State (Division I), the University of Tampa (Division II) and Kean University (Division III), DeMarini schools stood as champions accross all three NCAA Divisions. DeMarini introduces the first (and still the only) steel slowpitch bat. The baseball world was changed forever with the introduction of the first Voodoo aluminum barrel Half and Half bat.
2008 - ASU Softball Wins NCAA Title: ASU Sofbtall wins NCAA National Championship swinging CF bats (they go on to win again in 2011)
2011 - #1 BBCOR Bat: DeMarini Voodoo BBCOR Bat becomes consensus #1 bat in the country.
2012 - #1 Best Selling Bats: DeMarini CF Fastpitch bats top the industry as the best selling bats.
2013 - National Player of the Year: Kris Bryant, playing for University of San Diego wins the National Player of the Year swinging a DeMarini Voodoo BBCOR bat. DeMarini introduces the Flipper, the first Gapped Divergence technology bat on the slowpitch softball market.
2014 - Vanderbilt Baseball wins NCAA: Powered by the first ever custom DeMarini BBCOR bats, Vanderbilt Baseball wins the 2014 NCAA National Championship.
2015 - Customizable Bats and More: DeMarini launches the slowpitch VIZION bat the first adjustable bat that allows players to tailor end cap and knob components to their personal preference and desired MOI.
2016 - Customizable Bat Graphics: DeMarini becomes the first company to offer fully customizable bat graphics thanks to their Home Field Advantage.
2017 - Factory Expansion: Factory add 38,000 square feet to expand the HQ factory footprint to accommodate further growth and custom bat building operation. The entire DeMarini team moves in to the newly expanded factory HQ. This allows us to continue to grow and make the best bats in the world. Ray would be proud of what we have accomplished.
2018 - D-Lab Launches: DeMarini gives consumers an inside look at R&D; launches D_LAB site and first two D-LAB products, Nautalai and Vizion with more to come.