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Give yourself a hand: Home Team Handz scores loudest promotional hit at baseball's winter meetings

Home Team Handz
Home Team Handz's creators Marc Cohn (right) and Craig Maniglia (left) hired three local models to clap continuously during baseball's winter meetings.

By Chuck King

Download video of Home Team Handz in action

NASHVILLE –Perhaps the best – and certainly the loudest – new product on display at baseball’s winter meetings trade show will likely be bringing the noise to ballparks across the county.

The creators of Home Team Handz aim to give fans more bang for their clap. Their product, a fingerless glove with a piece of hard plastic attached to the palm, consistently drew a crowd to one of the rear booths of the convention center.

Even after hours, it was difficult to avoid the clacking throughout the Opryland Convention Center hotel.

“I like them,” Durham sponsorship account representative Gregg Van Leuven said. “It’s different. It’s not bulky like Thundersticks. You can brand it and it’s not going to get chucked away as easy as a Thunderstick.”

The idea for the product came from founder Marc Kohn’s son-in-law James Polucha, who decided regular clapping just wasn’t loud enough. Besides, clapping too vigorously left his hands sore.

Polucha’s first prototype – a pair of gardening gloves with a steel plate in the palm – excited Kohn so much that he quit his job at the Discovery Channel to perfect the product.

“Something just struck me and I said, OK, let me take over,” Kohn said. “I created a little factory in my basement and I went out and bought thousands of dollars worth of stuff and just whacked it together.”

Kohn settled on the nylon mesh glove that contains a half ball made out of the same plastic used to create batting helmets sewn into the palm. The patent is pending.

Making the gloves cost effective proved to be the most difficult portion of the process. The current version costs about two dollars per pair for an order of 3,000 pairs, a price some clubs still feel is too steep.

The plastic globes come in different colors to match the home team’s colors, and there is space on the back of the glove for a team logo and an advertising sponsor logo.

Last summer Kohn and his 12-year-old son Ryan clapped their way through a three-week tour of major and minor league ballparks. The reactions from fans sitting around them ensured Kohn that he, quite literally, had a successful product on his hands.

One Fenway Park fan walked down eight rows to see what was making so much racket.

“He said, ‘Sir, I’ve been hearing you for eight innings and I just have to know what you have on your hands,’” Kohn recalls

A fan in Baltimore found a different way to express her enthusiasm.

“A girl at an Orioles game asked if she could try them on,” Kohn laughs. “Then she put them in her underwear and said, ‘You can’t have them back,’ and ran out of the game.”

To help showcase Home Team Handz in Nashville, Kohn hired three models to clap nearly continuously for three days.

None of the three admitted to being anything more than casual baseball fans, but they all said they enjoyed wearing the gloves.

“They are so much fun,” Lori Beth Hogan said. “I get so many different looks at them. You understand them better when you put them on. It’s just fun that you can put them on and make so much noise.”

Though he didn’t receive any orders at the show, Kohn said at least one major league club came to him on the final day to talk about purchasing them for an opening-day giveaway.

Kohn said he’s also received interest from an NFL team and a European soccer tournament. But it’s baseball, he figures, that is his major market.

“It’s a pretty neat idea,” Stockton director of marketing Eron Zehavi said. “Anything you can do to generate fan interest, make noise and not be too cumbersome is a good combination.”

 

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