It was a great moment in sports history — a beer bottle shaped like a baseball bat and filled with 18 ounces of Coors Light or Original Coors (now called Coors Banquet).
The limited-edition “bat bottle” was made of amber-colored glass textured to resemble wood grain. The screenprinted label was positioned lengthwise like a bat’s trademark, and the neck was decorated to look like grip tape.
The Coors bat bottle made its debut March 1, 1996, in Tucson, Arizona.
“It was a natural for us to introduce the product here first because of the tie-in with the Rockies’ spring training,” a Coors spokesman told the Tucson Citizen at the time.
The bottle was shipped in 12-packs but sold individually for about $1.39 each at stores, or $4 at Hi Corbett Field, where the Colorado Rockies trained.
It was an instant hit, and an instant collectors’ item.
“A Coors beer bottle shaped like a baseball bat is flying off Tucson supermarket shelves faster than a speeding silver bullet,” the Tucson Citizen said. The newspaper reported speculators buying hundreds of bottles at a time.
The Arizona Daily Star also cited very high demand, calling the bat bottle “a smashing success.”
Word was out — you had to get your hands on this thing.
So when the bat bottle was distributed nationwide a few weeks later, fans were ready. Customers in some markets were calling stores to place orders in advance, according to the 1996 Adolph Coors Company annual report.
The plan was for bat bottles to be out for one to three months, but the company extended the idea another season after the enthusiastic response from fans. In 1997, Coors introduced signature bat bottles featuring the autographs of three of the greatest home run hitters of all time: Reggie Jackson, Ernie Banks and Willie Mays.
The company also earned cheers (and several awards) from the packaging industry for the innovative bottle shape, designed by Coors R&D project supervisor Kevin Rusnock.
“The bat bottle is one of the most unique packages Coors has ever produced,” Kevin said in a 1996 news release announcing the launch. “It presented many technical and operational challenges. It’s an achievement of which Coors is very proud. We know consumers are going to like it.”