A trip to the Louisville Slugger museum and factory

I was in Louisville a few weeks ago and had to stop by Hillerich & Bradsby's Louisville Slugger museum & factory while in town.  It opened in 1996 and is a place that any fan of the game needs to make a point to visit.  I was lucky to get a sneak peek at renovations with executive director Anne Jewell the weekend before the new section opened to the public – and it's well worth the visit.
A 120' Babe Ruth replica bat stands outside the museum entrance. This one's made of steel and weighs about 34 tons. Clearly the Paul Bunyan model.

Courtesy Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
In the entryway, there's a wall of signatures plate of the hall of fame batters who've used Louisville Slugger bats – which comprises over 80% of inductees.  The most surprising fact to me was the average annual contract value – unlike megamillion dollar footwear and apparel deals, most contracts are in the 5 figure range.
The first exhibit you'll see in the new section is a case of game-used bats from Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew, Jim Thome, and David Ortiz.  Visitors can don a pair of cotton gloves and heft one of these magic sticks to home plate for a pose and picture.
The new section has plenty of kids activities, a good mix of hands-on exploration and historic explanation. You'll get surprisingly close to lumber used by Joe Dimaggio (the bat from his 56 game hitting streak), Hank Aaron (the one he used to hit home run #700), and Babe Ruth (notched once for every home run he hit that year).
The museum also had the foresight over the past year to plan a Presidential exhibit. Originally the collection contained signed baseballs from John McCain and Hillary Clinton – now the Barack Obama baseball sits on display alone.

Courtesy Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Visitors can take a factory tour and see live production. One side churns out professional models, retail and minor leaguers on the other. The day I was there, a cart of Dustin Pedroia bats was waiting to be shipped out. The factory keeps a database of all player specs which includes length, weight, grain width, color, etc. You can have a personalized bat made to order, then step over to a batting cage and try it out vs. a 90-mph fastball.
That's all from the factory and museum…more from Louisville later this week.

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  1. Peter, I didn’t realize you were headed to Cincinnati. Would have enjoyed the opportunity to meet you and to show you some of the great things we are doing on D Street here at Deloitte. Let me know the next time you pass through. Look forward to meeting you in Boston at the 2.0 conference.

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