I stopped blogging for a short time in the winter of 2009-2010. I came back probably stronger than ever, but I left out a few of the features that I enjoyed writing. One of them was the Interesting Sports Destinations feature that I used to write. I just found a few places that were not covered in other segments, but that I felt deserved to be talked about a bit. I would like to re-launch the feature with a look at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory that is located of course in Louisville, Kentucky.
I bought a book called Roadside Baseball in 2003 that had some great spots to visit if you are a baseball fan. One of them that always intrigued me was the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky. The picture of the large bat in front of the museum made me really want to see what else was inside. In 2009 I was in town to see the Charlotte Knight play the Louisville Bats, and budgeted extra time into my trip to visit the museum. I parked a couple blocks away, and was amazed by the line of people waiting to have their picture taken with the large bat.
One inside you really don’t know what to do first. They have all kinds of memorabilia and displays to look at. From my experience though it would probably be best to purchase a tour of the factory as soon as you go in. If the museum is busy you may have a long wait so you can tour the museum while you wait. They do not let you take pictures inside the factory so I have none to show. I really enjoyed the tour though. You are taken through every process of making the bat seeing the actual equipment that does it. At one point they have a few bats from current players that you can pick up and actually swing. Of course I had the Thome bat in my hand, and a Cubs fan that was touring had a Soriano model. If you are a baseball nerd, or even just a casual fan this tour is pretty cool. They talk about the difference between maple and ash bats, and you can see where they are made. Ever since then I have been picking them out as they come up to the plate. Did I actually learn something while having fun?
The building houses a factory and a museum. The museum was very cool to me as a baseball fan. There is so much to see inside that a couple of paragraphs could not do it justice. I will just post a couple of pictures showing some of the exhibits, and let them speak for themselves.
This is just a sampling of some of the things you will find in the museum. They have bats from most of the great stars over time. One portion of the museum even lets you swing/hold an actual bat from certain stars. You get a nice pair of white gloves, and you can hold a bat from a famous player such as Mickey Mantle. The day I went it was very busy so I did not take that opportunity. I enjoyed seeing the historic lumber as well as reading some of the stories behind them. There is drawer after drawer filled with bats from famous athletes. Some historic bats are also located inside the museum. I also loved the full size mannequins/statues of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Ken Griffey Jr. I don’t know if I was in an especially good mood that day, but I had a blast inside the museum. For a baseball nut there I was in overload mode.
One of the cooler parts of the museum though is the story of how it all started, and how the company has grown. According to legend Pete Browning broke a bat in 1884, and a local woodworker Bud Hillerich offered to make him a new one. Pete was known as the ‘Louisville Slugger’, and the name stuck for the bat. This story has been disputed over the years, but the success of the company cannot be. Honus Wagner became the first player to have his name on the bat, and since then many of the best in baseball have used a Louisville Slugger bat. From this first display showing the initial bat made you can track the progress of the company through a series of displays.
If you are near Louisville with some time to kill the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is an excellent place to spend some time. As a baseball fan it would be hard to come away from the experience with anything but a great experience. There is just so much history inside that you have to appreciate it. You also get a free mini bat with the factory tour so what can top that?