Posted on 01 September 2010.
Just over a year ago, my brother and I took a trip from Nashville up to Indianapolis to see a Jimmy Buffett concert. We left out early on a Tuesday morning with the intention of stopping for lunch and a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum, and I am glad we did.
I have always wanted to see the museum. Growing up Louisville Slugger was the wooden bat. There were no substitutes. It seemed like everyone in MLB was using Louisville Slugger, including my favorite player Dale Murphy. So finally getting the chance to see how the bats were made was a thrill.
The museum, and factory, are located in downtown Louisville. You can’t miss the museum. Just look for the 120 ft bat leaning up against the 5-story building.
Once inside there is a lot to do and see. The first thing you will come upon is the gift shop, but save this for last. Go grab a ticket for the tour, and then head into the museum to wait your turn.
The tour was what made the trip for me. It was really interesting to see how each bat is made. They walk you through the process from taking a simple slab of wood to the final product ready for the players. We were fortunate to have a good guide with us that day who made the tour that much more enjoyable. You get to walk through as they are making bats. Many of them will go out to minor league players, but one section of the factory is set to make bats for a professional player. That day we got to see bats being made for Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was a lot of fun seeing the process first hand on how they shave down the bats further and further. Then, depending on the type of bat needed, they run it through a machine that cuts it down to size. Next they will sand the bat down and put on the finishing touches like the logo which is either a sticker, maple bats, or burned into the bats. Unfortunately you can’t take photos of the factory, but its really worth while to see.
When you exit the tour they give you a souvenir bat and spit you out into the museum to look around. The museum is fascinating as well. Here you get to see old bats from the early 1900s to modern day. The sizes, and shapes, have varied over the years. They have showcases of countless models from countless superstars from over the many years that Louisville Slugger has been making bats.
One of the coolest things to do in the museum is to handle one of the old bats from the players. These are bats that the players actually used in games. I choose to pick up an old Mickey Mantle bat. They had a few to choose from, but with Mickey being my Dad’s favorite player, it was an easy choice. You have to put on gloves since all the hands handling the bats will ruin them over time. I was surprised at how big the bat was, but it wasn’t near the biggest bat in the room. Still an experience I won’t forget.
Before leaving there are still a few places to check out. In the back of the museum, past a really cool statue of a glove and ball, is the batting cage. You can pick out a bat from a current player, I choose Evan Longoria, and you can take some swings in the batting cages. That was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone. Swinging a big wooden bat is so different than the aluminum ones that you grow up playing with as kids.
Me at the Museum
Me Hitting with an Evan Longoria Bat in the Cages
My Brother Hitting in the Cages with a ARoid Bat Model
After you are finished taking your swings, its time to head on over to the gift shop. Now is your chance to pick up a personalized bat or other souvenir. I choose to pick up a t-shirt while my brother opted for a personalized bat for his son.
Overall, it was a great trip to a place I had always wanted to visit. Anytime you are in the area, be sure to head on over and check out the Louisville Slugger Museum. It is definitely worth the journey. You won’t be disappointed even if you aren’t the biggest baseball fan.
Dale Murphy's Bat Signature - 1974 is for when he signed his bat deal.
Me in front of the entrance.
By the way, it rained on us at the Jimmy Buffett concert, but we had a blast. It was actually pretty fun singing in the rain with thousands of other parrotheads.
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