Since the company’s origin in 2013, co-owner Josh Shapiro has had one thing in mind for Baseball Lifestyle 101: grow the game of baseball. Starting as an Instagram page that served as a platform to post baseball highlights and interact with fans, he turned it into something that he never could have imagined.
Once Shapiro’s account reached 5,000 followers, he wanted to show some appreciation to his followers and have shirts made. After talking with his former strength and conditioning coach and now co-owner of BL101, Bill Rom, Shapiro realized that sales would not meet his desired amount, which sent him to the next level of broadening his fanbase by expanding to other social media platforms.
With Rom’s help, Shapiro was able to grow his page and form a community of baseball fans on Facebook before shifting focus to becoming a clothing brand. With the new goal in mind to create a tight-knit fanbase with a passion for baseball, the Instagram page turned into a platform that created content followers could relate to.
Giving followers the ability to connect with the company has been a major point of success for BL101, continuing into their clothing line. With shirts and other apparel that highlight different positions on the field as well as different abilities that players have, it gives an authentic feeling that an athlete can truly represent their style of play.
As a former baseball player, Shapiro understands the importance of players having the confidence to represent themselves. In the business of baseball merchandise, very few companies offer the wide range of selections that BL101 does, allowing them to release new products that are one-of-a-kind in their market.
The evolution of their apparel has improved significantly with every new release, headlined by one of their most recent drops, the Frozen Ropes Shorts. With four colors representing different ice cream flavors dropping on Friday, August 4, the shorts became the greatest product release in company history, selling over 900 pairs on the first day. As these shorts grow with more time online, they will be the most recent of many Baseball Lifestyle products to have sustained success that not just baseball players but all kids will become interested in.
On BL101’s website, some items have been hot sellers since the clothing line’s debut in 2017, such as the BSBL-SZN collection with shorts and short sleeve hoodies that come in a variety of colors, ranging from gray to camouflage.
The backbone of Baseball Lifestyle’s clothing brand has been its collection of shirts with baseball-specific sayings and slang. Concepts like the “Your Girlfriend Likes My Swing” and “How to Bunt'' shirts have been for sale since 2017 and remain a few of the best-selling tees in their inventory.
There is something for fans of all tastes besides the themed shirts, with simple designs and gradients to give certain products a different look and feel.
As the community continues to grow, more concepts will come out that highlight other aspects of the baseball world and add to the already rich and diverse collection of shirts available for people to add to their wardrobe.
Each collection has its significance behind it that is designed for a specific purpose, like the “Embrace the Grind” collection built for performance and training. These lightweight and breathable shirts were designed for players to be comfortable in training and practice with a mantra that baseball players frequently use.
Shapiro’s motivation to launch new products that kids of all ages will enjoy and use in everyday situations has led to drops and collections that often sell out due to high demand.
A fan favorite from the early days of BL101 was the boat shoes made for all baseball fans. Followers and loyal customers were asking for these summertime shoes to be restocked. Shapiro answered, bringing them back in the early summer of 2023. Ranging from size 6 to 13, the brand’s take on a classic look is perfect for game days, special events, and everyday wear.
The Baseball Seams Backpack has been a popular product in BL101’s inventory since 2017 and now has a second form in black. The perfect backpack for a baseball player is made out of real baseball leather and is durable enough to use in any environment.
Baseball Lifestyle’s product list has everything that a ballplayer could ask for, in large part to an incredible staff willing to listen to followers and loyal customers about what they want to see and use. With staff and partners all around the country, the message that they try to put out can reach new audiences and demographics that would not be possible without them.
Dennis Dietz, BL101’s Vice President of Operations and Logistics credits the company’s internal success on a growing staff and a work environment that shies away from the typical corporate feel. Everyone on the staff is passionate about their work and aims to represent the message they want in their clothes and the content they put out for fans.
With all the work put in with their partners to continue pushing out new, top-of-the-market clothes, the connections built with customers have kept them in a place where they understand what is missing in their collection.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without leaning into the community,” said Rom.
Constant communication has played a crucial role in their daily operations, according to Dietz, which helps keep designers updated on what colors and designs they want for their next project.
Throughout BL101’s history, their method of operations has changed significantly, having to change certain aspects of their daily plans to sustain the success they have had. The most important part of running a successful business is “the ability to communicate with each other every day and see where there are inefficiencies and shortcomings in the process,” said Dietz. The business world is constantly changing, and the staff’s willingness to learn and adapt to meet goals and keep the company thriving is a trait that has been instrumental to their success as they grow.
Since the beginning of their clothing line in 2017, the evolution of all products has improved significantly. “The main thing would be we have a better understanding of the products that we use,” said Dietz. Baseball Lifestyle’s work through collaborations and more access to quality materials has made them one of the top baseball clothing manufacturers and customers can trust that they will receive a product that will look good and be durable enough to wear and use for years to come.
BL101’s growing community is “naturally ingrained in every drop,” said Dietz. The focus behind their products is still centered around baseball, but a goal that Shapiro and Dietz are working towards is bringing in more customers with products that are stylish enough for everyone to wear. Apparel like the Frozen Ropes Shorts will be a stepping stone for future drops that will reach demographics outside of baseball fans.
The love for baseball that everyone in the company has is a huge motivator, and their love of the game reflects in the work they put in every day.
Building up a large audience is not something that happens overnight, as BL101 is still expanding its business every day and building connections with fans. In the company’s earlier days, Shapiro used his platform on Instagram to comment on baseball videos to help bring viewers to his account before rising to prominence in the baseball world.
Interactive posts became a staple in their content, with posts such as “Tag someone who can’t strike you out” or “Tag your throwing partner.” Shapiro and BL101 Creative Director Josh Gerson’s experience as players played a crucial role in this development, knowing that kids would share these posts with their friends and comment, bringing further traffic to their page.
Baseball Lifestyle builds its community by commenting on posts and through sales, hashtags, and giveaways. Hashtags like the #100mphclub were a major contributor to the page’s interactivity, as they would randomly select a giveaway winner who liked and commented with the hashtag in the first 5 minutes of a post. Anyone with a purchase on the website or a prize from any giveaway would be entered into a giveaway at the end of the month for a grand prize.
Their use of social media platforms to promote their giveaways has been one of their greatest strengths, which has grown to be something that fans have become accustomed to as they continue to work with top baseball apparel companies like Easton, Victus, and Rawlings.
As one of the first influencers in the baseball world, BL101 had opportunities to work with these brands, and in return, they received brand-new equipment. These giveaways were a factor in helping grow their account and number of followers and have remained a staple in their business.
During events like the BL101 World Series tournament from July 7-9, kids of all ages came to the store looking to participate in apparel and equipment giveaways and sales. With games and events running throughout the tournaments, people received free Victus bats, brand new gloves, batting gloves, cleats, and discounts on the hottest Baseball Lifestyle merchandise.
With millions of followers across all social media platforms, Baseball Lifestyle has become one of the most reputable and well-known baseball merchandising companies in the country. A once fully eCommerce company has since expanded with its first-ever retail store at Lasorda Legacy Park in Yaphank, New York. Shapiro and the rest of the staff were overjoyed to have their apparel hit the shelves, and the store has been a massive success in its first year.
BL101’s relationship with Lasorda Legacy Park started when they set up a tent outside at every tournament to sell some of their merchandise. As their brand grew, more people recognized their name and products at the complex. The two sides agreed to a partnership where they rented the pro shop at the facility and sold their merchandise along with shirts and hoodies representing the complex and their teams.
Parents, kids, and players can go into the store and buy some of their favorite BL101 gear, ranging from shirts to custom, hand-painted bats. The store is open during events, games, and tournaments held at the park and can be found in the batting cage facility located in the middle of the complex.
Despite only being the first company retail store, the level of success that it has had in under a year has given Shapiro the motivation to start expanding even further. In 2024, BL101 is looking to add at least three more retail stores in areas surrounding Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and complexes like Lasorda Legacy Park where fans from all over the country can come and find some of their favorite merchandise.
Baseball Lifestyle’s presence in the baseball world has brought them to some of the biggest events in baseball, such as the College World Series and the MLB All-Star Game.
At events as big as the All-Star Game, their goal has been to give people who don’t have the chance to be at these events a view of what it’s like to truly live the Baseball Lifestyle. Rom believes the importance of BL101 being in attendance for these events is to give a behind-the-scenes view of some of the brightest stars in the sport and what it means for them to share a stage with all of the best players in a true baseball environment.
BL101 has seen tremendous success since 2018 with its pop-up store at the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, showcasing some of the best collegiate talent in the country. Their work with brands like Easton has helped them gain notoriety to the point where when word reached them that they could bring their brand to Omaha, Shapiro and Rom jumped on the opportunity and have become one of the most visited stores at the event.
Fans of all ages come to Omaha for the annual tournament and with the level of recognition that Baseball Lifestyle gains every year, the larger the brand will become.
Part of the Baseball Lifestyle is meeting people along the way and having once-in-a-lifetime experiences that were once unimaginable. Away from the field, there is so much work that goes on that is required to keep a growing business running, and without the constant work from the entire team that has a true passion for what they do, none of the success that has been had in the past ten years would be possible.
Shapiro’s dedication to the company dates back to its beginning, when he and BL101’s Marketing Director Melissa Colleary-Rom spent countless hours working together before selling any products, selling ads to companies, and receiving shoutouts from larger companies to become seen. Between the two of them, they were learning as they went with little experience in the industry and did everything possible to bring the company to the lasting success it has had.
BL101 prides itself on being more than just an apparel company but also a brand with a message that people can relate to. With the help of their partners and all of their customers, they will work to keep representing what it truly means to live the Baseball Lifestyle.
Both current and former Major League players have been featured in Baseball Lifestyle content, such as Cleveland Guardians pitcher Triston McKenzie and 2023 Detroit Tigers first-round pick Max Clark. The message from Shapiro and the rest of the staff is that baseball is for everyone who was not just born into a baseball-loving family but also for people who pick it up along the way in life and fall in love with it for the way it’s played and how players represent themselves and the sport.
The journey for Baseball Lifestyle 101 has brought everyone involved on a crazy yet prosperous journey with many more adventures and successes to come in the future. Their fans mean the world to them, and everything they do as a company is to show appreciation for not only the followers but everyone who loves baseball and shares a part of their love of the game with them.