A Trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum

 

A Trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum

 

When you think of Major League Baseball and baseball history, you can’t help but think of Louisville Slugger – the main bat brand for major league players, including the Babe.

Louisville Slugger got into the bat-making business back in the late 1800s. J.F. Hillerich was the owner of a growing woodworking shop in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1880s when his son, Bud, began working for him. Per Louisville Slugger, as the story goes, “Bud, who played baseball himself, slipped away from work one afternoon in 1884 to watch Louisville’s major league team, the Louisville Eclipse. Louisville Slugger Factory OriginalThe team’s star, Pete Browning, was in a hitting slump that got worse one day when he broke his bat. Bud invited Browning over to his father’s shop to make him a new one. With Browning at his side giving advice, Bud hand-crafted a new bat from a long slab of wood. Browning got three hits with it the next day. Browning told his teammates, which began a surge of professional ball players to the Hillerich shop. Yet J. F. Hillerich had little interest in making bats; he saw the company future in stair railings, porch columns and swinging butter churns. For a brief time in the 1880s, he even turned away ball players. Bud persisted; he saw the future in bats. His father, pleased with his son’s enthusiasm, relented. In 1894, with Bud Hillerich taking over from his father, the name “Louisville Slugger” was registered with the U.S. Patent Office.” The rest is history.

Louisville Slugger Entrance

Louisville Slugger Entrance

 

 

 

Recently, BRC took a trip to Louisville to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum. The facility is part museum, part manufacturing facility and all of it is a pleasure to check out.

 

We were fortunate enough to get a private tour, which gave us an opportunity to check out some of the less-seen sections. One of those areas was the room where the “bat templates” and measurements are stored. Many professional players have their own custom bats and measurements. We had the chance to see the bats of Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth among others. A lot of players also used the template of other players for their personalized bats, which was the case with Derek Jeter, who used the same model throughout his career. He actually used the P72 model, which was originally created for Les Pinkham. P72 was actually a very popular template, used by such players as Hall of Famers Cal Ripken and Robin Yount. Last year, in honor of Derek Jeter, Louisville Slugger retired the P72 model, which was the first time a bat model had been retired by the company. Going forward, players interested in that particular model would now request the “DJ2” (Derek Jeter, #2).

 

 

Louisville Slugger Bat Model Storage

Louisville Slugger Bat Model Storage

 

Louisville Slugger Babe Ruth Model Bat Close Up

Louisville Slugger Babe Ruth Bat Close Up

Ruth's Bat Model

Ruth’s Bat Model

 

 

 

Ted Williams Bat

Ted Williams Bat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famous P72 Jeter Model

Famous P72 Jeter Model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The production area was very interesting. Part of the facility housed machines that were used back in Babe’s time for bat development but now are on display solely for entertainment purposes and demonstrating how the technology has evolved over the years. Modern production is a combination of high tech manufacturing (machines that contain personalized codes and dimensions for customized bat creation) to manual activities (bat painting/coloring for example) to ensure the high level of quality and consistency that Louisville Slugger guarantees with its products.

Louisville Slugger Machine - Old

Louisville Slugger Machine – Old

 

Louisville Slugger Machine New

Louisville Slugger Machine New

 

Louisville Slugger Bat Painting

Louisville Slugger Bat Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, we made a visit to the museum-specific area which had a number of educational tools on hand, as well as samples of baseball memorabilia. Of course, one of our favorite pieces was one of the bats Babe used during the 1927 season when Ruth famously established the single season home run record of 60. You could see around the Louisville Slugger brand on the bat that there were a number of notches etched in by the Babe, which reflected the number of homers Babe had specifically hit with that bat. Babe actually maintained a strong promotional relationship with Louisville Slugger throughout his career and regularly visited Louisville for his bats or to take in a horse race with members of the Hillerich family.

Babe Ruth 1927 Bat

Babe Ruth 1927 Bat

 

Babe Ruth Home 1927 Bat Close up

Babe Ruth Home 1927 Bat Close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The timing for our visit was good, as the latest “Silver Slugger” awards were on display for fans before they were presented to their respective recipients. The Silver Sluggers is produced by Louisville Slugger and awarded to the best offensive player at each position in the American and National Leagues, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. A great bonus for sure! If you’re ever in the Louisville area, a trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum is highly recommended!

Silver Slugger Awards

Silver Slugger Awards

 

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