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Eric Peterson, Published October 29 2010

Where are they now?: Zinger finding a niche making baseball bats

Even though he is in his mid-30s, Dan Zinger still has dreams of making it to Major League Baseball.

The former Concordia College men’s hockey and baseball player is co-owner of Prairie Sticks, a baseball bat company based in Red Deer, Alberta. Zinger’s partner, Jared Greenberg, founded the company.

“The major leagues is the pinnacle of what you want to get to,” said Zinger, a 1996 Concordia graduate. “Both of us realize now that we can probably get there as a manufacturer. … It’s the next best thing to being a player I think.”

Zinger, 35, lives in Red Deer, which is located between Edmonton and Calgary, with his wife, Heidi, and two daughters.

Zinger said the majority of the bat company’s business comes from independent baseball circuits like the Golden League, Northern League and Frontier League.

“Teams like the (Fargo-Moorhead) RedHawks or the (Winnipeg) Goldeyes,” said Zinger, who also works as a sales manager for an oil and gas managing company.

Prairie Sticks are not major league-approved at this point, but Zinger said eventually that is the goal. One of the hurdles to get to that point is the licensing and insurance fees for MLB would cost around $30,000 per year, Zinger said.

“The route to get there though is probably, realistically a few years away,” Zinger said. “We haven’t tapped out the independent market yet. We think there is a lot more business to be had there.

“We need to have all our ducks in a row and really be solidly embedded in other markets.”

Zinger played baseball at Concordia from 1993-96 and had a .274 career batting average. Playing for longtime Cobbers head baseball coach Bucky Burgau, Zinger said played an important role in his baseball development.

“You won’t find a guy who has more passion for the game than he has,” Zinger said. “Those baseball memories were pretty good.”

Zinger thinks it’s cool to make bats in a country where hockey is king.

“Baseball is not a huge game here,” Zinger said. “They call it hardball up here for crying out loud. … It’s just a neat kind of thing to tell people because it’s so odd. Nobody on this side of Canada even does what we do. It’s such a weird story.”