Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BYB EXCLUSIVE: KEEPING THE BASEBALL CONNECTION GOING


We like to interview interesting and unique individuals with good stories and good causes here at BYB. We've done it for the past three years. After that, they become a Bleeding Yankee Blue family member for life.  It all started with our first interview... Read EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: STEVE KARSAY.  Since then, it's advanced to other interesting people, like Bob Lorenz (HERE), Dante Bichette Jr (HERE), Laura and Jorge Posada (HERE). Even our pals Charles and Joey Moses (HERE) and our friend Ty Hensley (HERE). You can read all of them on our website... on the left side. 


Well, I have another interesting treat for you today. Kris Totten helps run Akadema, a baseball supply facility. He's also a former minor league baseball player.  Bottom line, I find the dude interesting. Plus, as part of Akadema, they donated the bat for the Jack DiSalvo Scholarship this past spring, a scholarship BYB was front and center on.  The winner of that scholarship was Augustine Graziano. Read all about it in, TEAM DISALVO FOLLOWS THROUGH BIG TIME! His picture is below:


Recently, I even received my very own Bleeding Yankee Blue engraved bat from Akadema.  A very nice gesture from a very nice guy.  So, I became curious... what makes Kris Totten and Akadema tick.  I decided to interview Kris and pick his brain for the BYB audience.  I hope you enjoy this... I sure did.

BYB: First off, thank you for the bat and the great work you did donating for the Jack DiSalvo scholarship earlier this year.  How did Akadema begin?

(In Photo: Jack DiSalvo)
Kris Totten: You're welcome. It was a pleasure to be associated with such a great event like the Jack DiSalvo Scholarship.   I know Mr. DiSalvo did a lot for his community and was a big mentor to a lot of the kids he coached. We need more people like him around.

(In photo: Larry Gilligan)
Akadema began in 1997.  It started out just doing fielding gloves, batting gloves and wood bats. Lawrence Gilligan, who played MiLB with the Cardinals and White Sox didn’t think there were good fielding gloves available at that time. That was in the late 80, early 90’s, and so the brainstorming to form a baseball glove company began.  I joined shortly thereafter once I got done following my dream of playing my own pro-ball career. (It was minor league ball with the Seattle Mariners.) 

(In photo: Kris Totten)
My career MiLB ERA of 5.00 wasn’t getting me anywhere in this game, so I had to get a real job.  Akadema has since expanded into a full blown sporting goods company now almost 20 years later. It offers metal bats, apparel, uniforms, turf shoes, etc. It's great.

BYB: Who are some of your clients. Give us some big names.  Do they use Akadema bats during play throughout the season?


Kris Totten: Right now, Akadema fielding gloves are currently being used at the MLB level by the following players:  Shane Victorino, Derek Holland, JB Shuck, Kevin Pillar, Vin Mazzaro, Jason Pridie, Craig Breslow and Abraham Almonte.  We have dozens of high end MiLB players under contract as well that should break into MLB at some point this year, so that's exciting.


 BYB: You're a baseball fan and I believe a Red Sox fan looking at your Google + Avatar.  Am I right? How the hell did I even allow you to be interviewed on our site?  Who was your favorite player growing up and why. Currently, who do you love to watch play?

(In Photo: Roberto Kelly)

Kris Totten: Ha Ha. Actually, I'm not a Red Sox fan. I'm a true Yankee fan, I promise. My favorite player growing up was Roberto Kelly and for no other reason other than  I liked the way he set up in his batting stance. I know, it's a weird reason, but I always tried to emulate him growing up and play like did. He was a good player and he made the game look easy to me. 


Oh, and the reason for the Manny image on my Google + is simple;  Manny Ramirez was our first “big sign” with Akadema, and he continues to promote the brand to this day in Iowa, so I feel obligated to promote him when I can.

My favorite player today is Mike Trout. He is the future of the game, simply the best player in the MLB. It pains me to say it, but Mike used Akadema batting gloves and fielding gloves coming up through the minors, but Mike is no longer using Akadema. That being said,  I wish him nothing but the best. He's a very humble kid. He plays the game the right way and has a skill set that no other player in the game can match. Plus, he is a Jersey kid, so you gotta root hard for them.


BYB: If someone is interested in looking at the Akadema products, how can they do that?

Kris Totten: If you are interested in Akadema you can visit us personally if you are local. We are located in Hawthorne, NJ.  Or you can visit our website at www.akademapro.com to view our product line.  973.304.1470 is the office line and we are open Mon-Friday 8:30-4:30. 


BYB: Do you do engraving like you did for us here at Bleeding Yankee Blue? How does that work if some of my BYB readers are interested in doing it?

Kris Totten: Yes, engraving is an option we offer on any of our wood bat line. That can be done on our website. We have a feature on our site for this, or you can call us directly to order any wood bat of your choice and have it engraved with your name, nickname, team name, etc. We also offer custom bats with colors as well.

BYB: You're a big baseball fan, a Yankee fan. So, here's a scenario; You're the manager of the New York Yankees for 1 week.  Looking at the state of the Yankees right now, their pitching troubles, their weak bats, what do you do to change that?

Kris Totten: Wow, that’s a tough question.  The veterans they have are getting older and not producing like they have earlier in their careers and the new guys they have just don’t have enough experience at the MLB level. 


Masahiro Tanaka is obviously a bright spot for them and guys like Yangervis Solarte and Jacoby Ellsbury have cooled off since their hot starts. Outside of going after some players via trade, not sure what the Yankees have to offer player-wise that will bring the type of player or players in via trade that can be immediate impact players that can turn it around. But I would certainly  love to see the current roster of players rally and motivate themselves around the fact that it's Derek Jeter's last hoorah and push themselves into a position to make a strong run to get into the playoffs and send Jeter out a winner!

BYB: If you could meet 1 baseball legend of all time and sit and have a beer with them, who would it be and why?

Kris Totten: Mickey Mantle and/or Babe Ruth. Why? Because they loved to party and somehow found time to become 2 of the best players to ever play the game.

BYB: Final Question... Do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue? If so, what do you think?

Kris Totten: To be honest, no I have never read Bleeding Yankee Blue before you and I were first introduced to each other a few weeks back.  I have since and do regularly and I do enjoy it, you do a great job!

Thanks Kris, and thanks to Kris for a great interview. Oh yeah... and  the great Akadema bat! You did a great job with it, and it's proudly displayed in my office!

You've made BYB the fastest growing Yankees fan site in history. Now shop at the Bleeding Yankee Blue store!  Follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook!

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