I received a complimentary media pass to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. All opinions are based on my personal experience during my visit.
Nashville has Music Row, but did you know Louisville has Museum Row? On Main St. in downtown Louisville, visitors can experience nine museums and attractions, including the Louisville Slugger Museum. Whether you are a local or a tourist, the Louisville Slugger Museum is a must see for anyone, even if you aren’t a sports fan. Yes, the museum is all about bats and baseball, but there’s also history, science, and art.
We walked over to the museum from the 21C hotel, and stopped to take pictures of the world’s biggest bat. The bat is an exact scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34 inch wood bat used in the 1920s. It stands 120 feet tall and weighs approximately 68,000 lbs. This is one Louisville Slugger, that wasn’t made in the factory, but was made in Louisville. It took 1500 hours and six months to be built, and they used five layers of paint. Since making its debut in 1995, the bat has been repainted by hand on two occasions.
After picking up our tour tickets, we wandered around the lobby and explored various exhibits that show how baseball has changed over the years. I stood behind home plate, as a 90 mph fastball flew at me. Let me just say that even behind glass, I felt the heat off of that ball.With 20-30 minutes before our tour started, I was in awe as I checked out the incredible memorabilia, like Lou Gehrig’s bat. But, I was a little crushed when our tour started and our guide reviewed the game plan. No photos inside the factory. No phone calls, texting or tweeting.
Over the next 30 minutes we learned how Louisville Slugger bats used to be made, and then watched how they’re made today. The process of making wooden bats has evolved with technology, and is much less time consuming. We even saw bats being made for current MLB players. Our guide passed around bats used by Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and others to show us how certain players prefer their bats, including type of wood, weight and lacquer. At the end, we were rewarded for our good behavior with free miniature bats.
Important Note: TSA does not allow bats of any size in carry-on luggage.
60% of all Major League players currently use Louisville Slugger bats
Louisville Slugger Museum History
Baseball has a rich history, and Louisville Slugger bats are front and center. In the lobby, you can see and touch over 6,000 autographs of baseball legends, burned into white ash wood. Did I mention you can hold a bat used by Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench or David Ortiz? Yes, I held a bat that Yankees’ legend Mickey Mantle once used in a game! Bats are rotated, so the selection available depends on your visit.
Originally, all Louisville Slugger bats were hand turned, which was time consuming. Today, all Louisville Slugger bats are made by machine in 30 seconds or less.
Fun Fact: The last hand turned bat used in a Major League game was made for Houston Astros player Craig Biggio.
Craig Biggio is my all-time favorite Astros player. I was amazed to learn that prior to his retirement, Biggio ordered his bat for every Louisville Slugger factory employee. Then, Biggio made a stop by the factory and autographed each bat. When he presented the bats to the employees, he told them “thank you for helping me in my career.” Solid ballplayer, and a class act, Craig Biggio is the perfect sports role model for any aspiring athlete.
If you’re in Louisville, make sure you swing by the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory for the tour. It’s sure to be a hit for everyone! Check out Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Facebook for news, fun facts and information about the latest exhibits.