Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is known as one of the greatest sports museums in the world. It is also famous for creating the most popular baseball bat in America.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and celebrating the extraordinary contribution that the Louisville Slugger has made in baseball. It pursues a dedication to delighting baseball lovers of all ages and helping them create joyful memories that will last a lifetime.
The Louisville Slugger company started making baseball bats in 1884 and have been doing factory tours for just as long. But the history of the company that originally started it all begins in 1856, when a German immigrant by the name of J. Frederick Hillerich opened a woodworking shop and became an instant success.
The woodworking shop continued to thrive over the next 20 years, when in 1880, Bud, the eldest son of J. Frederick Hillerich, became an apprentice at the shop. Bud was a lover of baseball and an amateur player of the sport. He would make baseball bats in the shop for himself and his teammates.
One day in 1884, Bud skipped work to attend an Eclipse game, the Major League team of Louisville. While watching the game, Bud watched baseball megastar Pete Browning break his bat and offered to make him a new one. Legend has it that Pete Browning made three homerun hits with the bat that Bud made for him. It just so happened that Pete Browning’s nickname was “The Louisville Slugger”.
Bud’s father was not interested in adding baseball bats to the items produced at the woodshop; he believed that there was more money in creating a popular swinging butter churn. Bud pressed on with his plans for creating baseball bats, and even patented the creation process.
The business continued to grow and “Louisville Slugger” became a registered trademark of their company in 1894. Bud was made a partner at his father’s company in 1897 and the company has only continued to grow since then, with the Louisville Slugger as their most popular product.
Factory Tour: Visitors can take a guided tour of the famous factory where the Louisville Slugger baseball bats have been made since 1884. The tour takes visitors right through the active production line where they can smell the wood, see wood chips fly, hear historical stories, and even watch the bats get branded. To top it off, every visitor on the tour receives a free miniature Louisville Slugger bat as a souvenir.
Big Bat & Big Glove: Visitors can also see the world’s largest baseball bat – at more than 120 feet high, the bat weighs 68,000 pounds and is made of pure steel. It is a large-scale replica of baseball legend Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger bat. A 17-ton sculpture of a giant baseball glove made from 450-million-year-old Kentucky limestone is on display for visitors to climb on and take photos with. The younger visitors will be especially charmed with this sculpture.
Signature Wall: This exhibit features a wall filled with hundreds of signatures from famous baseball players who signed contracts with Louisville Slugger. Visitors can touch the autographs and take pictures next to their favorite player’s signature.
Batter Up!: This hands-on exhibit lets visitors hit baseballs with a Louisville Slugger in Bud’s Batting Cage. They can use bat replicas of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Derek Jeter. At the Batter Up! area, visitors can test their skills as a pitcher by throwing balls at their pitching simulator.
Hold a Piece of History: As crazy as it might sound, in this exhibit, visitors get to actually hold the baseball bats used by the greatest baseball players of all time. They are not stuck behind glass cases or put on high shelves out of reach – visitors can hold, swing, and enjoy these real pieces of history up-close and personal.
Must-see Bats: This exhibit highlights the most precious bats in the museum’s collection. It features famous baseball bats like the Babe Ruth Notched Bat, the Joe DiMaggio 56 Game Hit Streak Bat, and the Hank Aaron 700th Home Run Bat. All of these bats are complete with autographs and a detailed history of the bat and its owner.
Big League Little Bricks: This exhibit is on display until January 2018 and features works built entirely out of LEGO bricks. Visitors will find intricate sculptures, portraits, and stadium replicas to enjoy as well as hands-on activities where they can create their own LEGO masterpieces.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, 800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202-2620, Phone: 877-775-8443
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