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updated: 12/8/2011 10:36 AM

Batterz Box steps into Libertyville shopping center

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  • Rob Earhart, team sales manager; Mike Dutler, president, owner; and Michelle Oswald, director of softball, operate a new business in Libertyville, The Batterz Box.

       Rob Earhart, team sales manager; Mike Dutler, president, owner; and Michelle Oswald, director of softball, operate a new business in Libertyville, The Batterz Box.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Two Vernon Hills dads who love baseball opened a retail shop that they believe will be a hit for young baseball and softball players.

The Batterz Box, at 1336 S. Milwaukee Ave., is a sporting goods shop that allows customers to compare bats before buying one. The shop also features other equipment related to baseball.

"The Batterz Box allows kids a place to try out a bat before they buy it," said Team Sales Manager Rob Earhart. He believes the new concept store fills a need, adding that it's similar to what is being seen in the golf industry.

"We adults would never buy a new golf club without teeing some balls up first," said owner Mike Dutler. "But we regularly expect our sons and daughters to play ball with bats and gloves they have never seen -- let alone demo'd," he added.

Store employees are trained to help young players find a bat that's the right size for them.

The shop carries all the major brands in bats and gloves such as Rawlings, Easton, Marucci, Schutt, Louisville Slugger, Worth and DeMarini and RipIt.

Bats at the store range from $55 for a T-ball bat to $400 for the high-school level equipment. Earhart said the bats will be priced to match online prices found at popular sports equipment sites, including

A highlight at the business is six batting cages, complete with L-screens, tees and balls to allow customers to try out bats prior to purchase.

The owners say the business meets a big need given the recent youth baseball bat rule changes for 2012. The store will only sell youth bats that carry the proper certification, Dutler said.

The business owners met years ago while coaching their 14-year-old sons, who now play together on a travel baseball team. "We both love baseball," said Earhart, who left his job at CDW to launch the business. Dutler was a finance director at a Libertyville company before turning his focus to baseball.

"We provide knowledge of the sport," Earhart said, adding that Dutler played ball at Southern Illinois University. "We want to provide expertise," Earhart said.

To address the needs of softball players, Michelle Oswald, an assistant softball coach at Lake Forest College, has been hired at the new business.

Through the holidays, the store will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, to

• Kim Mikus covers local business. She welcomes comments at


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