Plainville furniture maker reclaims legend’s lumber

By Jay Fitzgerald | Sunday, August 3, 2008 | | Business & Markets

Photo by John Wilcox

A Plainville woodworker thinks splendid splinters from the Splendid Splinter’s old baseball campground in Lakeville will make excellent high-end furniture.

Stephen C. Staples, owner of Staples Cabinet Makers Inc., has for decades specialized in what he calls “odd” but nevertheless high-quality furniture made from reclaimed wood.

He’s turned barn doors into cupboards and church pews into tables.

One of his more popular furniture items came from the floor boards of the Westport home of the aunt of Lizzie Borden.

Never mind that the wood didn’t come from the actual Fall River home where Borden allegedly killed her parents in one of the most infamous murders in U.S. history.

“People like a little history with their furniture,” said Staples.

Now he thinks he’s got another winner: tiger maple wood from a tree that was recently cleared from property once owned by Red Sox [ team stats ] legend Ted Williams, who for years used the Lakeville land for his Ted Williams Baseball Camp for boys.

That’s right, wood from a tree at the late slugger’s very own baseball camp.

The property, now owned by the town of Lakeville and used as a recreational park, was recently cleared in order to build a library on a corner lot, a town official confirmed.

Staples ended up with huge logs from a downed maple from the site - and the rest, as they say, could be history.

“We tell people (the wood) is Ted Williams’ wood and some of them go, ‘Ooooooh,’ ” said Staples. “Hey, he once owned the wood. It’s a fun thing.”

One circular-shaped table has already been sold for $5,000, though Staples acknowledged the new owner wasn’t impressed with the Ted Williams angle. He just liked the tiger-maple wood and design, Staples said.

But others, especially baseball fanatics, might be attracted to the Splendid Splinter connection, albeit a very loose connection.

The family estate of Williams, who died in 2002 long after his camp closed, is known to be very protective of the copyrights to anything related to Williams. A representative of the estate could not be reached for comment.

But Staples said he’s just having fun - and will only build about eight tables from the legally obtained wood, which, he said, he can verify once was on Ted Williams’ land.

“We’ll check into it just to be sure,” he said of any legal questions. “I’m just telling people it came from his old camp.”

The town of Lakeville, which still calls the property Ted Williams Park, hopes one day to renovate some of the surviving buildings at the old site, including a main pavilion structure still standing.

According to published accounts, Williams himself was known to spend lots of time at the camp when it was open. A big fishing enthusiast, Williams even used to fish at a pond on the site.