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For more than 135 years, Louisville Slugger has been synonymous with America’s Pastime. Hall of Famers, Most Valuable Players and World Series champions have swung the best wood in the game over the years – and right this moment, we’re already writing the next chapter in the game’s history.

For more than 135 years, Louisville Slugger has been synonymous with America’s Pastime. Hall of Famers, Most Valuable Players and World Series champions have swung the best wood in the game over the years – and right this moment, we’re already writing the next chapter in the game’s history.

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Louisville Slugger By The Numbers

The number of steps in the process for making raw wood into a genuine Louisville Slugger.
22STEPS
Ty Cobb’s career batting average – the highest in Major League history
.366
Percentage of hitters in the National Baseball Hall of Fame who were under contract with Louisville Slugger.
80%
At the onset of his career, Babe Ruth swung a monster 50-ounce bat, the heaviest Louisville Slugger model ever turned.
50OZ.
Number of Louisville Slugger bats ordered by pro players annually.
100-120
annually
Peak output capacity for the factory – usually reached during Spring Training each year.
5,000
BATS
Number of plate appearances Derek Jeter had in his two-decade career, all of which came with his holding a Louisville Slugger P72 turning model.
12,602 OVER 2 DECADES
Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky IS HOME OF the World's Largest Baseball Bat STANDING AT 120 ft tall, AND 68,000 pounds(made of steel).
120 FT
Number of billets included in each batch that’s shipped to the factory.
5,000-8,000 per batch
Number of consecutive seasons in which Tony Gwynn hit over .300, spanning from 1983 to 2001.
19 SEASONS
Number of wood bats that leave the H&B factory in Louisville annually.
1,800,000
annually
The number of steps in the process for making raw wood into a genuine Louisville Slugger.
22STEPS
Ty Cobb’s career batting average – the highest in Major League history
.366
Percentage of hitters in the National Baseball Hall of Fame who were under contract with Louisville Slugger.
80%
At the onset of his career, Babe Ruth swung a monster 50-ounce bat, the heaviest Louisville Slugger model ever turned.
50OZ.
Number of plate appearances Derek Jeter had in his two-decade career, all of which came with his holding a Louisville Slugger P72 turning model.
12,602 OVER 2 DECADES
Number of Louisville Slugger bats ordered by pro players annually.
100-120
annually
Peak output capacity for the factory – usually reached during Spring Training each year.
5,000
BATS
Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky IS HOME OF the World's Largest Baseball Bat STANDING AT 120 ft tall, AND 68,000 pounds(made of steel).
120 FT
Number of consecutive seasons in which Tony Gwynn hit over .300, spanning from 1983 to 2001.
19 SEASONS
Number of wood bats that leave the H&B factory in Louisville annually.
1,800,000
annually
Number of billets included in each batch that’s shipped to the factory.
5,000-8,000
per batch
The number of steps in the process for making raw wood into a genuine Louisville Slugger.
22STEPS
Ty Cobb’s career batting average – the highest in Major League history
.366
Percentage of hitters in the National Baseball Hall of Fame who were under contract with Louisville Slugger.
80%
At the onset of his career, Babe Ruth swung a monster 50-ounce bat, the heaviest Louisville Slugger model ever turned.
50OZ.
Number of plate appearances Derek Jeter had in his two-decade career, all of which came with his holding a Louisville Slugger P72 turning model.
12,602 OVER 2 DECADES
Number of Louisville Slugger bats ordered by pro players annually.
100-120
annually
Peak output capacity for the factory – usually reached during Spring Training each year.
5,000
BATS
Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky IS HOME OF the World's Largest Baseball Bat STANDING AT 120 ft tall, AND 68,000 pounds(made of steel).
120 FT
Number of consecutive seasons in which Tony Gwynn hit over .300, spanning from 1983 to 2001.
19 SEASONS
Number of wood bats that leave the H&B factory in Louisville annually.
1,800,000
annually
Number of billets included in each batch that’s shipped to the factory.
5,000-8,000
per batch

The 135+ year history of Louisville Slugger all started with a 17-year-old playing hooky from work and choosing baseball over butter.

The 135+ year history of Louisville Slugger all started with a 17-year-old playing hooky from work and choosing baseball over butter.

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An apprentice in his father’s woodworking shop, John A. “Bud” Hillerich headed out one spring afternoon to take in a Louisville Eclipse game, the city’s major league team. After seeing Eclipse superstar Pete Browning break his bat that day, Hillerich offered to make the slumping slugger a new bat at his father’s shop.

He had made bats before. An amateur ball player himself, Hillerich had crafted some lumber for some of his teammates – as well as himself. But now, with Browning – known as ‘The Louisville Slugger’ – at his side giving direction on what he sought, the 17-year-old handcrafted the bat that launched one of the most iconic brands in history.

Browning, a three-time batting champion who finished his 13-year career with a .341 average, debuted the new bat the next day. He snapped his slump, collecting a trio of hits and setting in motion a chain of events whose effects are felt still today.

PARALLAX 1

I'D HAVE BEEN A .290 HITTER WITHOUT LOUISVILLE SLUGGER

 

TED WILLIAMS

(CAREER .344 BATTING AVERAGE)
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Despite Browning’s teammates flooding to the Hillerich shop for bats, Bud’s father saw a very different future for the company in stair railings, porch columns and swinging butter churns. At times in the 1880s, he actually turned away professional ball players seeking new bats.

But Bud persisted and, after some time, his father relented to his son’s unyielding enthusiasm.

In 1894, Bud took over the family business and ‘Louisville Slugger’ was registered with the United States Patent Office. Eleven years later in 1905, the company forever changed not just baseball – but sports marketing – by paying future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner to use his name on a bat.

Before Wagner, no player endorsed a bat nor an athlete endorsed an athletic product. That practice, of course, continues to this day across all sports. Since signing that first contract, Louisville Slugger has worked with generations of the best ballplayers in the game, including: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter.

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Six years later, a salesman for one of the Hillerich’s largest buyers, Frank Bradsby, joined J.F. Hillerich and Son. Bud and his father were experts in making bats – but lacked professional sales and marketing expertise. In stepped Bradsby, who, by 1916, became a full partner in the company. Thus, the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. was born.

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Famous Slugger Year Book cover, 1930.

Honus Wagner (left) examines a freshly cut Louisville Slugger while touring the factory with Larry French (right) in 1934.

In 1919, Babe Ruth becomes the first player to order a Louisville Slugger bat with a knob at the end of the handle.

J.A. 'Bud' Hillerich (age 78 at the time) June 1944, turning bats to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1st Louisville Slugger which he turned in 1884.

Brooklyn Dodgers during a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory, having "rough outs" for their models weighed, in 1946.

Louisville Slugger signed Jackie Robinson to a bat contract on Oct. 31, 1946 – nearly six months before he breaks the MLB color barrier in April 1947. Here, he’s shown with National League President Ford Frick in 1950 during Robinson’s Silver Bat Award presentation for his accomplishments during the 1949 season.

Famous Slugger Year Book cover, 1950.

Junie Hillerich (son of Bud Hillerich) goes over the finer points of measuring a billet with his sons Jack (left) and Hart (right). August 1958.

In 1960, copies of Louisville Slugger big league bats sold in retail outlets for $4.60 apiece. Youth bats, meanwhile, sold for $1.25 each. Here, Little League bats undergo a final inspection.

Two bats, one is already branded and the other is in the process of being branded.

Turned bats go through this sanding machine before being finished.

Tour group among the bins of bats waiting to be sent to players.

Floyd Robinson, of the Chicago White Sox, is in handpicking timber for his personal bats at the Louisville Slugger factory, in April 1965.

New York Yankee Mickey Mantle and Detroit Tiger Al Kaline display their Louisville Slugger award in June, 1957.

 
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Over the years, Hillerich and Bradsby Co. has filled needs in countless ways. During both World War I and II, the company produced equipment for the armed forces – while also making baseball and softball bats for the troops.

Over the years, Hillerich and Bradsby Co. has filled needs in countless ways. During both World War I and II, the company produced equipment for the armed forces – while also making baseball and softball bats for the troops.

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In the 1970s, the wood bat business evolved, branching out into aluminum bats – which remains a major part of the baseball world to this day.

Some 130-plus years have come and gone since Bud Hillerich first sat down with Pete Browning in his father’s woodworking shop. Since that day, Louisville Slugger has sold north of 100 million bats – making it, without question, the most popular bat brand in history.

PARALLAX 2

I'VE USED THE SAME BAT - SAME MODEL, SAME SIZE - SINCE DAY ONE IN THE MINOR LEAGUES.

 

DEREK JETER

(12,602 CAREER AT BATS - ALL WITH HIS LS DJ2 TURNING MODEL)
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Louisville Slugger continues to dominate both the wood and aluminum bat worlds, with countless players swinging Slugger. In the past decade, many national college baseball champions have hammered their way to the top with Louisville Slugger bats in their hands.

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n 1974, Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, surpassing Babe Ruth and becoming baseball’s all-time home run king.

Johnny Bench weighing a bat during his tour of the H&B Indiana factory in 1982.

In a July 1983 game against the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals star George Brett hits a game-winning home run with a Louisville Slugger in his hands – only to have it nullified due to having too much pine tar on the bat.

In 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. breaks Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak, appearing in his 2,131st straight contest.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn inspects a Louisville Slugger bat on one of his many visits to the factory.

In 2006, Louisville Slugger seeks and receives permission from Major League Baseball to make pink bats for players to use in games on Mother’s Day. The goal was to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Players used the bats and auctioned them on MLB.com. That effort led to fans and the public asking for personalized versions of the pink bats to honor breast cancer victims and survivors.

In 2013, Louisville Slugger changes its logo for the first time in 33 years. The new logo modernizes and energizes the new logo and introduces a new secondary mark, an ‘LS’ inside a baseball diamond.

MLB outfielder and five-time All-Star Adam Jones learns how his turning model, the AJ10, is made during a visit to the factory in Louisville.

 
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Rooted in history and tradition, Louisville Slugger will continue to grow and evolve. Recently, the company has gone far beyond bats, piloting innovations in performance technology by creating equipment ranging from batting gloves and helmets to training aids and accessories for players.

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But no matter how the game changes, Louisville Slugger carries the same sentiment Bud Hillerich felt in 1884 when he chose baseball over butter churns. Creating the best baseball bats in the world to help ball players take their game to the next level.

PARALLAX 3

We did not build a model and give it to the player to use. The player told us what he wanted and we built it.

 

John A. “Bud” Hillerich