Baseball Express started out as a small baseball specialty store in 1990 in San Antonio, Texas under the name Southwest Baseball Supply. The fledgling business only employed three full-time people. In a letter addressed to customers, company founder and then president, Howard Duckworth stated, “This has been the key to our success, having a staff that, just like you, loves the game of baseball and will keep working hard to make your baseball fun and enjoyable.” Since then, a passion and expertise of the game became the cornerstone of the company and it is a tradition the company carries on today.
In those early years, the company grew its footprint by conducting baseball training camps and selling baseball products through regionally focused flyers and its single retail outlet in San Antonio. Growth was gradual, but slow.
To speed up growth, the company began mailing out a seasonal product catalog in 1992. The first catalog featured Hall of Fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan standing firmly in the center of the cover dawning traditional cowboy garb while walking the streets of an old Western town. It was the first issue of many more to come.
“People loved that catalog, and still do,” stated Miller. “Our customers, even to this day, were the high school kids waiting for the catalog to come in like it was a Christmas Catalog. They would hang on to it until the next one came in, earmarking the pages.”
That first issue had a circulation of 30,000 and reached every high school and college baseball coach in the United States and Canada. It would expand to 800,000 just two years later in 1994, when the company officially changed its name to Baseball Express after a change in ownership. At its height, it had a circulation of 5.5 million. The company still produces a catalog every season, with the newest edition scheduled to come out in March of this year.
The catalog fueled growth throughout the rest of the 90s, turning Baseball Express into a major power hitter in the baseball world.