Ah, after a very long winter, spring is finally here! For all you sports enthusiast you know what that means, it’s time for a little baseball. With opening day celebrations at major league baseball stadiums around the country, I couldn’t help but remember our many trips to watch the NY Yankees at home, and away in Baltimore and Toronto. My son’s love of baseball over the years also led us to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and last spring it led us to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory to learn why the greatest players of the game have chosen these bats since 1884.
When we arrived the Friday morning before Memorial Day weekend, the first thing we did was check out the Big Bat outside the entrance of the museum and factory. The Big Bat is big, standing 120 feet tall and it is the replica of Babe Ruth’s 34 inch Louisville Slugger Bat. After taking a few photo ops, we headed inside to purchase what I thought were very reasonably priced tickets ($12 for adults and $7 for kids). With tickets in hand, we decided to start with viewing the short film, “The Heart of the Game.”
After the quick film that showcased baseball superstars sharing their experience with the great bats, we roamed around the Grand Slam Gallery and Gallery 125. One of the highlights in the Grand Slam Gallery was when my son was able to hold a piece of history. He was able to step up to the plate and swing and hold Derek Jeter’s model P72 bat that he used sometime between 2003 and 2008. The P72 model is the only model Jeter has ever used.
Also of interest in the Grand Slam Gallery were the exhibits that focused on the history and making of the bats. Apparently, in 1880, Bud Hillerich, who was an amateur baseball player, became an apprentice in his father’s woodworking shop where his father built everything from balusters to bedpost While working in his father’s shop, Bud made his baseball bats along with bats for several of his teammates. Bud made a bat for Pete Browning who was a star on Louisville’s professional American Association team–the Eclipse. Bud offered to make Browning a bat after witnessing him breaking his bat. Browning debuted his new white ash bat and had three hits in the game. Browning was known as “The Louisville Slugger” because of his tremendous hitting power. Years later the Hillerich family trademarked the name for their bats.
Gallery 125 had life-size sculptures of many baseball greats and loads of memorabilia like Joe DiMaggio’s bat that he used during his 56-game hitting streak in 1941. After absorbing a little baseball history, we moved on to the factory tour. We enjoyed the tour and watched as white ash, and maple tree cylindrical billets transformed into baseball bats. Our tour guide made the trip fun, and I regret that I can’t remember his name because he was quite entertaining. When the tour ended, everyone received a free miniature Louisville Slugger.
After the tour, my son was biting at the bit to swing a bat, so we headed to the batting cage where it was ten pitches for a dollar. We ended up investing a good bit of time at the batting cages while my son practiced bunting, which I am sure both his school and little league coaches appreciated.
The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory offer different limited exhibits, and when we were there, we enjoyed Sean Kenney’s “Big Leagues, Little Bricks.” It was phenomenal what Sean Kenney can build with Legos. We got a kick out of seeing Yankee Stadium, a sculpture of Andy Petit, and a portrait of Derek Jeter all made out of Legos. This exhibit has ended, but you can check out Kenny’s Art with Lego Bricks in his new traveling exhibit called Nature Connects.
We purposefully flew into Louisville, Kentucky before driving to meet friends for the Indy 500 in Indianapolis. The addition to our itinerary was mainly to check out the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. I am so glad we took an extra day to make the visit because it was an enjoyable couple of hours and I know it is something that my son will remember forever. Anytime, I can incorporate one of my son’s favorite pastimes I know we are in for a good day and our visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory ended up not being just a good day, but a great day!