My interest in sports and baseball is a little marginal to say the least, but the museum and factory tour offered by the Louisville Slugger was well reviewed and designed to be of general interest. There were a few subtle signs outside of the building which indicated that I was in the right place, primarily the largest baseball bat in the world (certified by Guinness) that was parked outside.
There is a museum at the centre of the attraction and then visitors can go on a pre-booked tour of the factory. Above is the introduction area to the factory tour, although there are no photos allowed beyond this point.
The machinery involved to make baseball bats is impressive and it has removed much of the human element that was once needed. However, there was a staff member making the bats in the traditional style, which seemed to require quite a trained eye.
The measurements for making baseball bats are very precise and individuals can choose their own length, width and weight for the bat. These figures are inputted into a machine and the bats are produced from that and it was quite mesmerising watching the lathes and then seeing a bat rolled down.
At the end of the tour everyone is presented with a mini baseball bat for free, and I’m pleased to say that I got this on the aircraft at Louisville Airport. The rules on this changed relatively recently to allow this, as before there were hundreds of the bats being confiscated. I say mini baseball bat, but the thing is actually relatively large and isn’t something that can be put into a pocket (unless you have big pockets). The other section of wood is what connected the bat to the lathe whilst it was being turned and they hand these out to anyone who wants one.
After the tour, visitors are returned to the museum area and the story of both baseball and the Slugger factory. It wasn’t a big museum and it doesn’t take much more than around thirty minutes to look around, although it’s all well presented.
This area is where visitors can pretend to be a hitter (or whatever they’re called) and there is a video of a pitcher (or whatever they’re called) chucking (or whatever the term is) a ball (or whatever they’re called). A machine then throws the ball at the speed that it would have been pitched, and I have to admit, it is pretty fast. On balance of probabilities, it’s fair to say that I’d have missed it if this was for real. Or been hit by the ball……
So many baseball bats in the sky….
Babe Ruth is the only baseball played that I’ve ever heard of. And this is his bat.
An historic recreation of how the factory used to be.
I thought that this visit was rather interesting, although I became a little pre-occupied about how I was supposed to carry a baseball bat around the city and then get the thing home. I fortunately did, but there is something a little strange about traipsing about with a baseball bat. But, then again, it’s America and they often carry guns, so I wasn’t that out of place.
The tour was interesting, although a little monotone in its presentation and the guide seemed a little bored by the whole thing. But, then again, he had probably given this tour many times and the excitement had perhaps worn off. However, he knew the information that he needed to know, so I felt that I was sufficiently well informed as to what each piece of equipment in the factory did.
It’s not a cheap site to visit, at $14, but it wasn’t unreasonable with the free gift of the mini baseball bat. For anyone who loves baseball I’m sure that they’d get much more from the visit, but it’s still an interesting way to spend ninety minutes or so.