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Un-Corking the Bat: Playing Catch with Randall Thompson of Dugout Mugs

The evolution of the Dugout Mug. (photo via Dugout Mugs)

The evolution of the Dugout Mug. (photo via Dugout Mugs)

“If you are good to the game, the game will be good to you.”

Randall Thompson; founder of Thompson Mug Company, and its All-Star Product, the Dugout Mug, lived by this mantra from the time he took up the game as a kid in Central Florida to his time in professional baseball.

Thompson’s passion for the game earned him a preferred walk-on spot at Florida Tech, where he went on to quickly earn a scholarship after his first season. Thompson’s play at Florida Tech also got the attention of pro clubs which led to signing with the Toronto Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

Thompson saw his professional career end in 2012 when he was released by the Blue Jays out of extended spring training. Like many players, Thompson looked to stay involved with the game, returning to Florida Tech to coach the pitching staff.

As a pitching coach, home runs are something you want to avoid unless of course, it’s a business idea.

Sitting in the dugout as the hitting coach offered a lesson to “focus on the hands,” a business was born. The hitting coach, as part of his lesson, cut the handle off of the bat and left the barrel on the bench.

It was in that moment Thompson asked himself, “I wonder if I could drink from that?”

It was July 2014 when Thompson produced the first sketches of the Dugout Mug, and from there he was ready to throw his first business pitch.

Thompson with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
(Photo from Dugout Mugs)

Thompson earned his degree from Florida Tech in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. That formal education provided a great foundation for running a business, but the lessons taken from the field also provided anecdotes for how to face both adversity and success.

“In the business world, just like on the field, you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You can’t overthink things, and you have to have confidence in yourself. You have to be willing to take some risks, while also being wildly persistent and present.”  

In baseball, a batter hitting over .300 is considered outstanding, meaning you can fail 7 out of every 10 tries and still be considered among the best. That same mindset applies to the business world. “You have to be able to admit your mistakes, and you have to be ok looking like a fool, the same way you do when you step on the baseball field,” Thompson offered.  

With as many bats as Mariano Rivera broke in his career, it’s only right he has his own Dugout Mug! (Photo via Dugout Mugs)

The persistence learned from baseball helped ease the transition to running a business for Thompson.

“The most challenging part of starting a business is being patient. Everything always takes more time and more money than you anticipate. There is a TON of work that goes into developing a product or launching a business before you ever see a tangible result. You have to be ‘ok’ with spending a while, even a few years sharpening your axe before chopping down the tree.”  

For players or coaches looking to move into a second career, Thompson points back to the fundamentals of the game for advice.

“In tee-ball, it’s common for kids to run the wrong way or throw the ball into the ground. We all have to start somewhere and most times – we suck. Patience, consistency and persistence are what got you to an elite level on the field, the same will happen off the diamond.”

For Thompson, he always loved the game and had no idea his big debut would come after his career was over.

“You can’t feel like your best days are behind you. You hold a set of skills that can be applied to the ‘real world’ that will make you successful beyond your wildest dreams. If you are unsure of what your next love will be and don’t know whether to move left or right-jump up and down, don’t get stagnant or feel bad for yourself.”

Dugout Mugs offers custom mugs as well as Officially Licensed MLBPA mugs! (photo via Dugout Mugs)

While Thompson has found his new passion, there are still parts of the game that influence his behaviors in the “boardroom.”

“Standing on the mound and competing at a high level is a lot of fun and a huge rush. To me, I find it difficult to replicate those ‘on-field’ feelings but that also helps me stay from getting to up or down in the business world.”

Finally, like most former athletes, the comradery that exists among teammates and even competitors on the diamond is something Thompson misses.

“From long bus trips, overnight stays in hotels to tarp slides and dance-offs in the rain, you make some of the best friends you will ever make and create a bond that is unexplainable.”

For more information on Dugout Mugs or to check out their products visit them HERE!

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