WHERE: The Louisville Slugger Museum is in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Because most of our time in Louisville was made up of studying, speaking and talking to people at the booth, we did not have a lot of time to be out and about. However, the museum was just a couple blocks away from the hotel so we were able to go down and back without being away too long. Actually the walk from hotel to the museum is rather interesting with well-known replicas of famous sculptures. This is also where bats are made – the baseball kind, not the fly-around-in-the-night kind.
WHAT: Yes, this is a museum, but it is also a close-up and personal look at the bat makers making bats. If you are at all interested in baseball or in woodwork, this place is great. Not many factories let you get this close to the action anymore. You literally watch as a block of wood is turned into a bat. If you are interested in both – which I am – it is doubly interesting.
WHEN: Mondays-Saturday 9:00 to 5:00. Sundays 11:00 to 5:00. (Everyone in our group managed to get down to the museum in the morning – but I did read that the union makes the workers stop at 3:30 or something. Having the workers working certainly was a big part of the appeal – so you might want to call before you visit to make sure you are there during working hours.)
*Louisville Slugger started as a family woodworking shop (the Hillerich Family from Germany) that made everything from balusters to bedposts. Bud Hillerich, an amateur baseball player (1880) began making his own bats and then the bats for his teammates.
Then one balmy, spring afternoon seventeen-year-old Bud went to an Eclipse baseball game. (The Eclipse was Louisville’s professional American Association team.) Pete Browning, a star of the team broke his bat and Bud offered to make him a new one from white ash. Browning got three hits the first time he used the bat and became known as the Louisville slugger and thus the name.
*Most bats are made from white ash or maple. (Louisville Slugger has their own forests in the Northeast.)
*1.6 million bats are made each year.
KID FACTOR: The museum part of the place isn’t all that big (though admittedly, we were in a hurry and did not see everything) and had some fun things for kids to see. The tour was interesting – we got to hold some bats of pro players, see bats made and received a small souvenir bat. We also were able to chose the top of a bat (the part they cut off) to keep. This is just a piece of wood, but still cool.
This is definitely a kid place, especially kids who play softball or like baseball.