Monday, June 25, 2012

Louisville Slugger Factory, Louisville, Kentucky

While planning this road trip, I came across a helpful index of US factory tours. One of the ones I found listed as a favorite was the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory in Louisville, Kentucky. I dismissed the idea because I knew Kentucky was certainly not on the way to Idaho. 

When Brian asked why we couldn’t take a detour to see it, I looked on a map and saw that it was only a two hour drive south of Indianapolis, which was our second night’s destination. I figured in the mileage and it wouldn’t be too bad of a setback, especially for how cool it sounded and for how into baseball the boys (and we) are. So we told the boys about it and it quickly became the destination that, other than Gramma and Papa’s, they talked about the most before we left.  

So, after our night at Margo’s, a delicious Margo’s-mom (This is what the boys call her, not what I call her) breakfast, and a morning jog with Margo, we headed down south from Indianapolis and into Louisville. We easily saw the gigantic bat on the side of the old building downtown from blocks away.

Ready to hit the factory
While we waited for the tour, we visited a room that seems to serve as a type of baseball park graveyard. There are pictures of dozens of old ballparks that have since been laid to rest—parks like Candlestick Park, the Metrodome(Go Twinks!), and the Kingdome(Go M’s!) are framed and mounted on the walls. There are also bats signed by entire World Champion teams. I was happy and a little nostalgic to see the 1991 Twins bat. As an 11 year-old at the time, I was quite obsessed with the World Series that year, thanks to my baseball-loving, Minnesota Dad.

The tour itself is about half an hour and takes you right through the working factory. Our tour guide, Valerie, was an excellent leader and dedicated baseball-lover. You get to see the life of a bat, from tree to finished product. There are helpful videos that supplement the tour guide’s speaking, and even though the factory is loud, there is a microphone for her at each stop, and the TVs are turned up plenty loud enough to hear. We got to see the shelves used for the bats that Major League players order. (Major League players go through around 80-100 bats per season!) Photography inside the actual factory is prohibited, so I have no pictures from inside.

Outside there is a museum with a lot to see and do and touch. You can see what a 90 mile-an-hour pitch looks like, watch videos about baseball players and history, and there are a ton of bats to touch and stories and facts to read. (Of course I didn’t tear up watching the one about Ken Griffey Jr.!) We got to touch bats signed by Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench (while an attendant also held it, and while we wore batting gloves). The lifelike statues were a little creepy, but mostly cool. 

Scratchy and Smoochy hanging out in the dugout
Clark uses a 32oz bat like a hockey stick
Mickey Mantle's bat, handle with batting gloves!
Loved the tour!
The Great Bambino and the little bambinos
Smoochy, Scratchy, and Derek 
Ken Griffey, Jr.!
Watching 90 mile-an-hour pitches 
Ceiling decor
Cal Jeter
Bat trees!
We were surprised to see a couple placards about Bryce Harper being hit by Cole Hamel’s pitch a couple months ago. Guests can vote about whether or not hitting Harper was acceptable behavior and whether or not his suspension was warranted. (Um, no it was not acceptable, yes his suspension was warranted, and yes it was flippin’ awesome when Harper stole home after being beaned on purpose.)

After the main museum displays we found the kids’ area where the boys decorated bat nubs (pieces cut off bats before they’re finished) and hit off a tee for probably close to an hour. We caught up with Tour Guide Valerie, who went and found a bat with a Nationals’ W on it for the boys, and we spent time talking about her plans and dreams for expanding the kids’ area of the museum. She also wants to start a baseball day camp program for little kids. If you’re in the area, keep that in mind for next season.

So. If you’re considering driving through or somewhat near Louisville and your kids like baseball, you must see this place. It was worth the detour.


Decorating bat nubs
Swung on and belted!!
National League East...woot woot! Nats!
To read my other road trip reviews, go here.

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