Mike Carozza grew up like a lot of us; he always tried to emulate his baseball heroes.
From Ken Griffey, Jr. to Rickey Henderson, Carozza wanted to be like these players. He knew their stances, stat lines, and, of course, what equipment they wore. Carozza's vision was to have an online community where anyone could see what pros wear, and deliver in a fun and meaningful way. Thus, the idea for WhatProsWear.com was hatched.
Recently, JustBats.com sat down with Carozza to talk baseball, baseball equipment, and everything in between.
Tell us about WhatProsWear.
WPW is a baseball-focused community that helps serious ballplayers discover and buy the gear that their favorite players wear on the field. We have a website and a new app that puts MLB superstar's lockers in your hand. We also have a strong following on Instagram if you're into that kind of thing
What made you start WhatProsWear.com?
The seed was planted back when I was a teenager, playing outfield for my high school team (with future Gold Glover/All-Star/World Series hero Joe Panik, nbd). I needed a new glove, and Ken Griffey Jr. was my guy, so I Googled his glove. I couldn't find info on it anywhere! I was trying to hand someone my money, and no one wanted to take it! That was the spark.
What moment / post made you realize you were serving a market need?
As funny as it sounds, I realized that this stuff mattered because every time we made a mistake early on, which was often, people let us know about it. Not only did it make me realize that people cared, but thanks to those people, we have earned a reputation for getting it right!
Tell us about your passion for baseball and softball.
My mom and dad put baseball cards in my crib. I was reading baseball stats before I could read the English language. I started organized ball when I was 4 (with my dad's 1970s Dave Parker glove), and I'm still chasing a 'ship in centerfield for the San Francisco Tsunami of the SFNABA at the tender age of 30. My favorite part of baseball is gunning down baserunners from the outfield. There is no better feeling in the world than seeing that "out" call at the plate from 200+ feet away, the dazed look on the other team's faces, and your teammates hootin' and hollerin'. Baseball is the greatest sport in the world, and its always been the centerpiece of my life.
Why do you think people enjoy your site?
People enjoy WPW most importantly because we are filling a need. Ballplayers have always needed WPW, and the amount of organic traffic we get every day is proof. I think people continue to come back because we speak the language of baseball and we cut out the marketing garbage. Just facts, no fluff. Ballplayers respect that.
What is your favorite pro player bat or glove of all-time?
The glove that started it all is Griffey's Rawlings Heart of the Hide PROTB24. Black with tan laces and a trap web. My gamer for life.
Which Pro do you think makes the best choices, in terms of who they use?
I prefer a classic flair---not too loud, but not too bland. Brandon Crawford stands out for me as a guy who walks that line perfectly. As humble as he is, everything about his look and his gear choices, even his walk-up music, is very calculated. His taste is impeccable. That's a guy who knows what buttons to push, and what boundaries not to cross. It helps that he's a ninja in a baseball uni. An up-and-comer in that regard is Francisco Lindor. He is bringing back the stirrups look, and everything else about his game is airtight.
On the flip side, Hunter Pence stands out as the least stylish ballplayer. Pants above the knee? Absolutely ridiculous. He should be thrown in jail.
What is the most random question you've received on the site? Or, a great story about a pro using your site?
One of the most exciting parts about building WPW is that the best ballplayers on Earth actually use it! Followers include Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Adam Jones, Miguel Cabrera, and countless others. The weirdest question we've ever received was from Miggy himself. He wanted to know what we thought about this new cleats! Bryce Harper loves What Pros Wear, often tagging us in new products he's using. Griffey planted the WPW seed, and now today's version of Griffey is enjoying the fruits. That's one of the things we are most proud of.
What do you think of current pro baseball bats and pro baseball gloves?
I am constantly amazed at the quality of baseball products these days. The (product) competition has been so strong in recent years and I think its been the catalyst for a huge leap forward for baseball products. I see it all the time from old-timers in the comment section: "MAN I WISH THEY HAD THESE WHEN I PLAYED!"
Who is your favorite player ever and what bat would you love to have them swing?
You've probably heard enough about Griffey, so I'll give you my favorite Yankee (as a New Yorker). You may have heard of Derek Jeter. The definition of swag. I wouldn't dare have him swing anything but his Louisville Slugger ash P72 34 inch/32 oz. It's the bat he got his first knock (a single off Tim Belcher in 1995) with, and the bat he passed 3000 hits with a bomb off David Price in 2011. It's also the only bat model that Louisville Slugger has ever retired, renaming that popular cut to the "DJ2" after Jeter retired. This is the same bat swung by fellow 3000 hit club members Cal Ripken, Jr. and Robin Yount.
A time machine takes you back to your playing days. What bat are you going to tell your younger self to use?
Hey, don't count me out yet... I still got it (kinda). My favorite bat to swing before I snapped it in half last year was the Victus Axe with a 271 barrel. The Axe, in my opinion, improves bat speed and actually helps me pull the barrel to an inside pitch better than a regular handle. When we first published an article about it, lots of people said it was a fad. Now George Springer and Mookie Betts, among many others, swear by it. That's one of the best parts about baseball, that it is ever-evolving.
What's the coolest thing you've ever seen since you started WPW?
Being able to cover games at AT&T Park, Angels Stadium, and Oakland Coliseum has been very special. Anytime guys like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Madison Bumgarner, or Buster Posey take the field, history is being made. To be on the same field with them is something I'll tell my kids about, and having earned my way there makes it that much sweeter.
WPW recently added Bat Scout. Tell us why that was important?
Since we are focused mainly on MLB gear, metal bats have never been our expertise, and as such, we've stayed away from it. With the audience we serve, I've always felt it was a huge hole in our content mix. I was actively looking to fill that hole when I came across the "Bat Scout" site. The first thing that stood out to me was the founder Aaron's attention to detail. He is obsessed with bats, having worked in the bat industry, and not only that, but Aaron was an outstanding ballplayer in college. His background, to me, is what made Bat Scout a must-add. Quite simply, there's no one else out there with Aaron's credentials reviewing bats. If you are going to spend a few hundred dollars on a bat, I can't imagine a better guy to trust than the Bat Scout. You can check his reviews here.
Thank you, Mike, for answering questions. If you have any baseball bat questions, please feel free to give our friendly Customer Coaches a call at 866-321-2287. You can also shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to live chat. Don't forget, we'll be here for you from click to hit!