The first game of baseball’s World Series will be played tonight in St. Louis, but the players on the Texas Rangers and Saint Louis Cardinals teams will all be using Louisville Slugger baseball bats, made right here on Main Street. More than half of major league baseball players use Louisville Slugger, and our Hillerich & Bradsby bats have been used in every World Series since 1903.
According to company legend, Bud Hillerich made his first professional baseball bat in 1884, for Pete Browning, the star of Louisville’s professional American Association team, the Eclipse. One of Browning's nicknames was "The Louisville Slugger," and in 1894, H&B registered the name with the U.S. Patent Office. In 1905, Honus Wagner signed a deal with the company, becoming the first baseball player to officially endorse a bat.
Lately, sports apparel giant Nike has tried to horn in on the baseball bat market by selling its swoosh bats to college teams. After some initial success, Nike has apparently struck out. Of the top 20 teams in home runs last season, not a single one used Nike bats, and every college under contract with Nike has cancelled for the upcoming season. The Tuscaloosa News reports that Nike is no longer selling bats certified for college use on its Nike Store online. The report indicates that, while using the Nike bats last year, Alabama hit just 23 home runs, down from an average of 86.6 over the previous three seasons.
Game 1 of the World Series starts Wednesday night at 8, and you can see it on WDRB.
By the way, if you are really interested in learning all about the romance and history of Louisville Sluggers, you need to get yourself a copy of Bob Hill’s great book, Crack of the Bat: The Louisville Slugger Story (available HERE on Amazon). Hill, a transplanted Hoosier who fell in love with Louisville, is retired from The Courier-Journal, and writes regularly for louisville.com’s sister publication, Louisville Magazine.
WDRB reports: Louisville Slugger makes World Series bats
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). Photo Credits: H&B, Nike, Amazon.