Every summer, millions of Americans flock to their local minor league baseball stadiums to enjoy some wholesome family fun. It’s a chance to sit back and enjoy some baseball while splurging on classic snacks like hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, and maybe even some Crackerjack.
Partner Spotlight: HomePlate Peanut Butter
But what you might not know is that the players on the field are probably thinking about food as well. They’re hungry. The average minor leaguer makes something like $800 a month, which leaves little money to eat out regularly. That’s why so many players rely on an old staple – peanut butter – as a way to get the calories and protein they need to go out and play nine innings every day.
Because players tend to be superstitious, they carry their peanut butter habit with them even when they make the big leagues. If you walk into the clubhouse of your favorite team, you’ll find peanut butter even though the players could easily afford to have steaks and sushi around the clock.
Of course, just about everyone loves peanut butter (with apologies to those who are allergic to nuts). The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is as American as apple pie. The rub is that most of the options we see on the shelves of our grocery store quite simply don’t taste good or are chock-full of stuff we can’t even pronounce. Even the natural alternatives aren’t very appealing, especially since you’re forced to constantly stir them up to keep the oil from seeping to the top.
If only there was a brand of peanut butter that offered all the healthy benefits of peanuts and tasted great as well…
That very challenge is what inspired three friends – Danny Peoples,
Ross Atkins, and Clint Greenleaf – to join together in creating HomePlate Peanut Butter in Austin. Peoples and Atkins first met years ago when they both played minor league ball for the Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians in Kinston, NC. They knew firsthand from riding the busses and staying overnight in cheap hotels how much peanut butter was a staple of many players’ diets. They also knew how many major leaguers’ continued to eat tubs of the stuff before games as well. They saw an opportunity. What if they could provide a healthy alternative peanut butter that aided in young professional baseball players’ pursuit of their dreams?
But Peoples and Atkins each had fulltime jobs to consider. Peoples was working for a thriving employee benefits business, Ball Peoples, and Atkins had just been named the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s when they turned to their friend and serial entrepreneur Clint Greenleaf to get the ball rolling.
Back in 2011, Greenleaf sold The Greenleaf Book Group, the publishing business he had founded back in 1997. But he stayed on until 2015, when he left his active role with the business and became an author again himself: he wrote two books about teaching children to understand finances called Give, Save, Spend with the Three Little Pigs and Beyond The Piggy Bank. But when Peoples and Atkins came to him with their idea to start a peanut butter company, a business he knew nothing about, he jumped at the chance.
Tapping the contacts of a friend who ran a business that makes barbeque sauce, Greenleaf found a co-packing facility that could source natural, sustainable, and certified Non-GMO ingredients to make a delicious no-stir peanut butter. The team also reached out to their personal network for financial backers as well. Their peanut butter pitch resonated with former big leaguers Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Marco Scutaro, John McDonald, and Brooks Kieschnick, all of who became founding partners in the company.
Today, you’ll find jars of HomePlate Peanut Butter inside the clubhouse of all 30 Major League Baseball teams. You can also find all three varieties – creamy, honey and crunchy – in stores like Central Market, Home Goods, and Albertsons as well as online at Amazon.com, where you can also add squeeze packets to your shopping cart. Closer to home, you can order up a plate of Elvis-style pancakes at Kerbey Lane Cafe, which feature bananas, bacon, and HomePlate Peanut Butter. Kerbey Lane is also reprising their Granola Quesadilla on their 2016 Spring Menu which featuring the peanut butter combined with bananas, granola and honey – a menu item Greenleaf says he is eager to try.
“We’re all about doing anything that tastes great,” he says.