Flex Seal's Phil Swift Has NOTHING On Marlboro's Bob Battaglino And His Baseball Invention
Updated: Sep 3
I figure if Phil Swift can sell Flex Seal, my great friend Bob Battaglino can sell Core Lightning.
And so let's get that idea out into the atmosphere and make it whirl and twirl in people's minds.
If you don't know Phil Swift, the exuberant guy on the Flex Seal commercials, I have provided a video below. Happy guy. Happy sales.
Well, if we were back in the 1970s and watching a Flex Seal commercial, Bob would be all over Phil for his goofiness.
I know this because I know Bob's sense of humor. Case in point, Bob laughed and laughed, and chuckled and chortled and guffawed for days on end whenever he looked at my first license photo. Bob KNOWS goofy.
One morning, when we stayed up all night partying, a Three Stooges episode came on and the trio got hit by a bomb filled with laughing gas. They could not stop laughing and that contagion caught up to us, despite how foggy our minds were at the time. Of course, we roared -- that loud, deep from the belly, eye-watering, gasping for air kind of deal.
Those moments are rare, but I've shared at least a handful of those with Bob. As a matter of fact, I just felt a starter roll of giggles form in my belly and make their way up through my thorax and spittle lightly out of my mouth just from thinking about all those roaring moments we've had.
It should be noted that a certain part of me detested the fact that he was making fun of my license photo. Years later, in an effort to get his goat, I started telling him he looked like Epstein from "Welcome Back Kotter."
Eh, there actually is a bit of resemblance there. The large nose, the curly hair.
Ah, but Bob would have none of it. In his mind, of course, he was Vinny Barbarino -- the wise-cracking (and dumb) leader of the show's Sweat Hogs, played by John Travolta. And you could say there was some resemblance there, too, I guess.
Nick Abramo and Bob Battaglino. (Image credit: Courtesy of Kristen Cappello).
So, what in our God's name does this boundless sense of humor have to do with anything?
Well, it's who Bob is and he could use a little humor to sell his invention that he patented and toils to put on the market. The beautiful invention itself is not funny, but neither is Flex Seal.
Simply put, the device called Core Lightning is for baseball players (and athletes in other sports) who want to improve their swing. It trains your core muscles by repetitive motion to get the utmost zing, so to speak.
Those are my words. A little further down I will provide you with Bob's words.
But I don't have to use his product to know it works. I know Bob and Bob knows baseball hitting. As kids, he was always able to hit the ball a mile, further than most and with such a good eye that he didn't strike out often. And he was always interested in the science of hitting. He studied it (as much as a non-academic kind of guy studies).
Wait, wait, wait, I just realized something. I'm pretty sure Bob sold vacuum cleaners for a while in the 1980s and, of course, he didn't make a career out of that. My guess is he's not really built to be a salesman. Charm? Yes. But the ability to convince the burghers that they need something? Not as much.
Bob's still playing baseball at a high level in Arizona and the bastard is 39 days short of 60.
He's also probably sitting on a pot of GOLD with this Core Lightning. I can picture it becoming THE THING for all baseball players.
But don't listen to me. Instead, just read this following testimonial in the form of a letter from Kevin Long when Long was a hitting coach with the Columbus Clippers. Nowadays, Long is a hitting coach with the Washington Nationals.
The key words from Long are: "Core Lightning is absolutely perfect to help strengthen a hitter's core muscles. The device not only strengthens, but also reinforces the mechanics of a fundamentally sound swing."
And Long has actually used Core Lightning at camps, lessons and during the Triple-A season.
Wow. Bob's invention is that good, according to Long. It's not just me saying it.
So my guess is that the right people (backers) have NOT come across this pot of GOLD. I suggest for anybody with bucks to take a look.
And so now, dear readers, you can take a look at this marvel of a product at CoreLightning.com. Go to the video section to see about eight training videos, and there he is Mr. Serious himself, Bob Battaglino, doing the instruction.
Ahh, I certainly had to put that in there because his demeanor is not anything like the buffoonery of Phil Swift. After all, baseball hitting is serious business to Bob. He probably will never be able to laugh about it, even though laughing is imbedded in his nature.
See for yourself what it's all about in one of the eight videos:
Good ol' Bob, or as he sometimes is affectionately known: "Booba."
But you tell me? Does his science of hitting not ring true? Does he not know what he's talking about? Does he not have impeccable form? Can you tell that his product has helped him perfect that form?
Often in covering baseball as a reporter in Hawaii and getting to know many coaches, I've wanted to tell them about Core Lightning. I think it could sell like wildfire here, a baseball Mecca much like Bob's Arizona.
A screen shot of one of Booba Battaglino's Core Lightning videos.
Our friendship goes all the way back to the early 1960s, made possible when our family moved into a home on Grace Circle in Marlboro, Mass., in September 1961. Bob's father built the whole neighborhood and the Battaglino family lived down the road a bit.
My first recollection of Bob was when he and his brother John snuck up on me in my back yard while I was playing in my sandbox. I was probably age 5, tops, maybe younger, which would have made him 3.
They were behind a tree about 20 yards or less away and they threw rocks toward me and then ran away.
After that, we were neighborhood friends, but we didn't become really tight until the mid-1970s.
But a little bit before that, rocks were in the equation one memorable time. That's when Bob, John and I had nothing better to do (boy, what a bunch of dummies) than to throw rocks at a high-up street light at Jaworek School. Our intent was to hit the glass covering the light, and, well, I guess if you hit it, it might just break, right? We wanted to find out.
It was broad daylight, and, of course, Mr. John Battaglino, the builder who eventually became the owner of the Marlboro Twin Cinema as well as an organizer of the Marlboro Youth Baseball Association, just happened to be driving by. He got out of his truck, walked over to us and yelled, "What are you guys doing?"
He was pissed off and we didn't really have an answer, but he escorted us over to the Battaglino home for a little talking to.
By then, Mr. Battaglino had calmed down and became friendly, staying stern with one big idea that he hoped would enter our brains: "Throwing rocks at street lights is not something you should be doing."
Well, it worked to a point. We never threw rocks at that particular street light again. But there was plenty more mischief ahead.
A few weeks ago, Bob and I spoke on the phone for about 3 hours, the longest we've talked in a few years. The time went by like it was only about an hour.
We talked about one of those mischievous moments, or, as you might say now, teenage stupidity.
I will get to that main discourse, but first a little tangent.
Not long after getting our licenses, we would be looking for something to do, so we invented a game in which we would drive the White Knight (aka the Battaglinos' Toyota wagon) to the top of nearby King's View Rd., shut off the engine and drive the rolling car down the hill toward Hosmer Street.
We called it "rolling." So, every so often, with nothing else to do, one of us would look at the other and say, "Let's go rolling."
The hardest part was taking the right turn from King's View on to Hosmer. You had to be super careful that there were no cars coming down at that intersection and be ready to apply the brakes. But after that, it was usually clear sailing. The goal was to roll as far as you could until the car stopped. And we used to get pretty far — past the town line into Hudson.
Well, one night instead of rolling, we decided to instead drive the White Knight up the footpath that led from the Memorial Beach parking lot to the gate. It's kind of a surreal place to begin with, a place I have dreams about sometimes even now. That beach was a kind of Valhalla for kids in the summer months.
Well, as you can imagine, the gate was locked, so we didn't get to drive onto the beach like we wanted to, but having had at least a few beers (oops, that type of thing was bad then, but was not nearly as frowned upon as it is now), we decided that maybe we would drive the car through the gate.
It's not like Bob rammed the chain-link fence door, but he did have the White Knight pushing on it.
FYI, it should be noted that some of these finer details I had forgotten about until Bob reminded me on the phone.
At that point, a police officer had all of a sudden arrived in the parking lot, had the blues flashing and was calling us to come down. Oh-oh.
Because the path was not built wide enough for two lanes of traffic (and not built for cars, period), Bob had to drive back down to the parking lot in reverse.
He got there and stopped, still pretty far away from the officer, who got out of his car and started walking over to us.
Then (and I had forgotten about this), Bob waited until the officer got super close to us before he bolted and headed out of the parking lot toward Hudson.
In the meantime, as Bob was building speed, we saw a different officer chasing us from behind with the blues flashing and the siren blaring.
We could have pulled over I guess, but neither one of us wanted to do that, so ...
At this point, what I remember most is being the wingman, looking back over my shoulder and yelling: "Go, Bob, go. You can lose him."
And then saying: "He's pretty far back. You can ditch him. We're going to want to turn. Look for a place to turn."
On the phone, Bob filled me in on what happened next.
"Yeah, I was going so fast, I didn't know (Route) 62 was coming up and I went right across and plowed into a guy's yard," Bob said. "We were really, really lucky nobody was driving on 62 right there at that time."
One detail that I've always remembered was that we got out of that car FAST. Within seconds, we climbed a tree, where we stayed for what seemed like hours. There was enough covering in the tree that the officers couldn't find us.
And so we waited. The tow truck came and went. And then we waited some more just to be safe.
When we got down, we hit the woods as fast as possible so as to not be seen. I recall crossing some streams and getting soaked and pushing through thick foliage.
But the whole time there was an adrenaline rush of adventure. We felt like we were in a war zone and needed to be very wary of the enemy.
Eventually, I remember winding up on Rte. 85 and closer to Marlboro and being so tired that we chanced it and decided to hitchhike. We got picked up by a girl, who took us all the way PAST the Marlboro Police Station, followed by a left turn to take us home back toward the East side of town.
And Bob filled in this detail: the girl who was probably a few years older than us was driving a Carmen Ghia, a two-seater, so he had to crawl into a small back section behind the passenger seat.
I also remember that a few days later, when Bob was at American Legion baseball practice, he told me one of his teammates, Rich Scafidi from Hudson, said he heard all about our adventures that night on the police scanner. Rich told him that they had the dogs and a helicopter out after us. For some reason, I never believed that, but it's probably true.
An adventure by a couple of adventurers, for sure. One of many. You can't do this stuff these days and be seen as sane. So sure, we were very, very lucky. And yes, we were stupid. But we were certainly full of LIFE.
Our friendship can be summed up in the lyrics of several verses of Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand":
It was an April morning When they told us we should go And as I turned to you, you smiled at me How could we say no? With all the fun to have To live the dreams we always had Oh, the songs to sing When we at last return again
Sending off a glancing kiss To those who claim they know Below the streets that steam and hiss The devil's in his hole Oh to sail away To sandy lands and other days Oh to touch the dream Hides inside and never seen, yeah
Into the sun, the south, the north At last the birds have flown Shackles of commitments fell In pieces on the ground Oh, to ride the wind To tread the air above the din Oh, to laugh aloud Dancing as we fought the crowd, yeah
Days went by when you and I Bathed in eternal summer's glow As far away and distant Our mutual child did grow Oh, the sweet refrain Soothes the soul and calms the pain ___
As Robert Plant sings, "How could we say no?"
A couple of more details from the car chase, though.
"I went back the next day and saw that I took a gigantic divot out of that yard," Bob said. "Picture the car as a big golf club with a big wedge of grass gone."
There are probably many reading this, troubled at our juvenile delinquency.
That's not how I would have defined myself back then, but I guess it's true. Even my sister Marsha's words to me one time, so off-putting back then, ring with wisdom now: "You ARE a menace to society."
Thank goodness and thank the Lord (and Marsha's tough love), then, for I no longer engage in this type of trouble. Reformed for many years, I reckon.
But, you know what? We NEVER got in trouble for this. How is that possible? Surely, the police called Bob's parents, who (being the upstanding citizens they were and the upstanding citizens they were trying to teach us to be) probably took care of it with a few words like "They'll never do it again." No arrest. No court date. No fine.
I slept over Bob's house that night, but I never found out what he had to deal with from his dad, who by now, must have been resigned to the fact that there was no way to change his son (and, by extension, mine) behavior for at least a few more years and maybe more.
And just a few more stories about Bob before we circle back to his Core Lightning.
I must say that in this world to be able to "laugh aloud" and go "dancing as we fought the crowd," you've got to have a good grasp of what Bob has always called the "inanity" of things, the silliness.
Watching TV one summer morning in the mid-'70s, Bob announced his uninvited arrival to my house by riding his bike into my driveway and on to my yard. He then jumped off and let the bike go crashing into our brick steps.
Talk about inane.
And so, he did it again and again for a few weeks. That's when we really started hanging out all the time. Pretty soon, we were rocking to Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused," the 26-minute, 53-second live version!!! We'd be singing along with Plant and Bob would be drumming hard with his hands to the beat of John Bonham on the arms of what he called "the broken blue," a chair in my basement that was falling apart.
The music was and still is electrifying.
Another story involves another friend Chris Barry, when we were in Bob's basement and day. We wrote a note to ourselves and put it inside the bar of a barbell weight set, hoping to find it in the future and read it.
Well, that bar is long gone, I think. The note read something like that we promised that one day we would write about our friendship and our childhood bliss.
Well, I remember what our intention was so I don't need the note anymore.
OK, back to Core Lightning. Here are Bob's written words on what it's all about:
------------------------------------ What is CORE LIGHTNING?
>> CORE LIGHTNING is a functional, strike specific exercise training device.
It fuses the explosive acceleration of dual spring pistons with the precise timing and rhythm of the pendulum.
>> Its explosive torque resistance is fully adjustable.
>> Rhythm speed and torque force are fused and increase or decrease with a simple adjustment. The length of its rotational arc is also easily adjusted for fine tuning your strike.
>> Expert engineering, highest quality materials and elegant design guarantee two lifetimes of powerful performance.
>> CORE LIGHTNING has developed specific strike training devices for baseball/softball, golf and a Core Staff for mma, boxing and all around athletic performance.
>> CORE LIGHTNING has earned two U.S. Patents. One for structure and one for method of use.
How does CORE LIGHTNING work?
>> Like the metronome, which has been the master teacher of timing and rhythm for centuries, CORE LIGHTNING'S power-pendulum instills timing and rhythm deep into muscle memory.
>> CORE LIGHTNING'S still form explosive technique generates a very explosive torque force in a few inches of space, all in a rhythmic back and forth motion. This technique produces an explosive whip-snap force through your target.
Why CORE LIGHTNING?
>> Because rhythm is the heart of all athletic skill.
>> Because CORE LIGHTNING is a hand held metronome instilling hundreds of explosive whip-snap jolts of precise rhythm deep into muscle memory.
>> Because CORE LIGHTNING strengthens every joint in your body from its acceleration/deceleration lever/fulcrum whip-snap technique.
>> Because in 15 minutes a day, you can jolt your nerves, muscles and mind with 200-300 rhythmic repetitions of your best whip-snap strike.
>> Imagine owning increased timing and rhythm, explosive whip-snap striking skill and super strong joint-form leverage control for optimum strike accuracy.
>> This is CORE LIGHTNING. OWN YOUR STRIKE! ------------------------------------
Yeah, baby, way to go Bob. I totally love "The explosive whip-snap jolts of precise rhythm."
Phil Swift COULD NOT have said it any better. --- RECOMMENDED BEDROCK SPORTS READING: High Tops And No Socks: An Ode To The Doctor