In 1995, Michael Libonati was a 52-year-old man with a passion for his family and a love of sports. While on what he thought would be a simple visit to the veterinarian, Michael’s life changed forever. Suddenly stricken by a pain in his chest, Michael collapsed to the ground, he was suffering from a major heart attack. His heart had stopped beating; he was flat lined. LA Fire & Rescue was there to revive him, but things were not looking good.
A week later during a routine angioplasty, an artery was ruptured and the medical team was forced to perform open-heart surgery. This surgery would consist of a double bypass, unfortunately this too went wrong, with an explosion of blood on the table, doctors moved quickly to perform a quadruple bypass. From what started as a routine operation, Michael was now fighting for his life. With his heart pumping at 20% power, an extreme loss of blood, Michael would stay heavily sedated for the next four days. His family made a decision to transfer him to UCLA Medical Center in hopes of an opportunity of prolonging Michael’s life. The decision proved to be effective, and in just over a month Dr. Lax and the UCLA Medical team assisted Michael in his recovery and helped him live with a less than normal heart.
For the next seven years, Michael fought to stay alive in hopes of receiving a new heart. He was managing his sons little league team, and and his day to day life by not giving up. His damaged heart was no longer capable of supporting the activities of an everyday person, leaving him in the hospital for months at a time while doctors searched for solutions to keep him alive.
It was January of 2003; Michael was watching his son and grandson work through a series of hitting drills at a Las Vegas baseball clinic. For the majority of his career he worked as a carpenter. He was recognized for his inventive mind and his ability to find solutions to make objects work efficiently. At the hitting lesson Michael was taking notes on the teachings of that day, but had the notion that there had to be a better way to demonstrate the words of the instructor. Michael left Las Vegas soon after, his health continued to deteriorate. Not knowing how much longer he had to live, he took one more road trip to Las Vegas. It took every bit of energy he had to walk 50 yards, but he witnessed firsthand a heavyweight championship fight on March 2nd, and a NASCAR event on March 3rd. That night he returned home to California for what he thought would be his last time.
Awakened by a call at 4:20 am on the 4th of March 2003, the voice on the other end of the line said, “We have a heart.” It was the UCLA heart transplant coordinator, and Michael's wish had come true. He called his son Daren and discussed what was about to happen. Daren said to him, “Dad you better get going!” And just like that the decision was made. Within hours Michael was admitted into UCLA Medical Center, where a team of Cardio Heart Surgeons waited. The new heart was implanted and a second chance at life was given. It was at this point, a new chapter began for Michael.
Michael returned to Las Vegas the following year, this time with his son Vincent to attend a hitting camp. With a fresh heart, and blood pumping through his veins, The Swing Bat was conceived. First came the PVC prototype, and then the research and design work, all in an effort to perfect the idea that was burning in his mind. In 2007 Michael took the money he had and invested it into his idea. After mountains of paperwork, he was granted a U.S. Patent. He made a connection with a company in China, to manufacture the swing tool, and now with the process complete, his work was done; The Swing Bat was ready for the baseball world to see. With a handful of California, and Las Vegas establishments swinging his bat, Michael had become an inventor, whose vision and passion, for his idea, fueled his desire to understand and develop a tool to help coaches teach hitting skills the right way.