Baseball road trip: Louisville Slugger Museum

Now that baseball is officially over for the season, it’s time to do other things, like take a road trip.  Our family decided to take a trip to Louisville, Kentucky to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger Museum. Since this is a baseball blog, I won’t talk about the Kentucky Derby Museum except to mention that it was very interesting. The museum is very well done and I learned a lot.

This was actually not my first visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum.  My son and I drove to Louisville in April 2018 to see Newsboys UNITED, since they were not playing anywhere near us. We decided to stop by the museum on our way to the hotel we were going to stay in.  We were short of time and money to take the museum tour, but we looked around at the rest of the museum and we decided that someday we would return to take the factory tour.  The Louisville Slugger Museum had a booth at the Winter Warm-Up in January, and if you signed up for their email list, you received a pass for two free factory tours.  This was our impetus to return, and I bugged my hubby all year to go until he finally caved in.  You can’t let a good deal like that expire.

We went to the Kentucky Derby Museum in the morning. We then went to lunch and made our way to the Louisville Slugger Museum, driving up 4th Street through the University of Louisville campus, then the Spaulding University campus, and finally, the beautiful old homes in Old Louisville.

The bat on the outside of the museum is so big it takes two photos to show it!

We parked at a private lot on 9th Street for only $6.00.  We arrived in time to get tickets for the 12:00 PM factory tour.  We wanted to add the bat vault tour, where you can see bats designed by legendary players, but sadly, tickets for the bat vault tour were sold out for the day.

Our tour guide’s name was Kate.  She was very knowledgeable. She mentioned at the beginning of the tour that we were not allowed to take photos or videos of the tour. The factory tour began with a movie that talked about the Hillerich & Bradsby Company (the parent company of Louisville Slugger)’s beginnings in 1884.  There is a forest in Pennsylvania where the trees grown there are used specifically for bats.  The tree selection process was discussed in the movie.

After the movie, we went into the factory. The selected trees are debarked and made into cylinders called billets. One tree can make up to 60 billets. Kate mentioned that less than 15% of these billets are made into bats for professional players.  Bats are made from ash, maple and birch wood. These woods have different qualities when they are made into bats. Some players come directly to the factory to select billets they want to be made into bats, including Christian Yelich.

The next step is to put the bat on a lathe, which smoothes out the surface. It takes 48 seconds to put a bat through the lathe. The bats have knobs at each end, called bat nubs, so they don’t move during the lathe process. The next step is to cut the bat nubs off of the bats and sand the ends.  You will see some bats with an indentation at the end and that is called the cutback.

The next step in bat production is the imprinting of the logo and names on the bats.  After that, the bats are finished, either by painting or staining the bats, and then putting a clear acrylic finish on the bat to give them a shiny finish.  There were baskets of bat nubs and we could take some nubs for a souvenir.  Phil and I both took a nub.

Our tour ended in a room with photos of players that used Louisville Sluggers.  One of the photos was of one of my all-time favorite Cardinals, Lou Brock.

Kate took questions from the tour guests at the end of the tour.  We then picked up our souvenir mini-Louisville Slugger bats.  After that, we went into the museum to look at the displays.  There were some interesting Lego sculptures, including a sculpture of one of my favorite places on earth, Busch Stadium.

Here’s a photo of a large glove, made of granite. Next to the granite glove is a batting cage, where you can pay to attempt to hit a baseball.

After we were done looking at all the displays, we went into the lobby where you can view wooden blocks with signatures of all of the players who have used Louisville Slugger bats, and these were grouped by decades. It was fun trying to find our favorite players.

We then went into the gift shop where I purchased yet another refrigerator magnet (my favorite vacation souvenir – they are inexpensive but useful) and a mouse pad.  My son bought some baseball cards, and in those packs were some lovely Cardinals baseball cards.  It was a nice end to a great tour.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum for anyone who loves baseball and who is interested in how things work.  If you would like to find out more about the museum, you can visit their website at http://www.sluggermuseum.com.

In other news, six Cardinals players were nominated for Gold Glove awards, but only Kolten Wong won the Gold Glove.  As you know, the fans vote for the Platinum Glove awards.  The nominees for the Platinum Glove awards are the Gold Glove winners, so you can select Kolten to win the Platinum Glove. You can vote for the Platinum Glove Award here:  https://www.rawlings.com/.

That’s all for now!  Thanks as always for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

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