I mentioned that I ended up on a shuttle to the airport at 3:45AM this week because Sometimes I’m Not Very Smart.
There’s a second part to that story. Because sometimes I do get lucky. My early morning start this week meant I arrived in Louisville at 3:30 in the afternoon.
And for me, that was very, very lucky.
See, Louisville Kentucky is known for several famous things. For one, it’s the birthplace, and burial place of the great boxer Muhammmud Ali. It’s the home of the greatest horserace in the world, the Kentucky Derby.
But, more importantly it’s one of the holy sites for baseball. Cooperstown, New York is the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seattle is the site of the most beautiful park in baseball, T-Mobile Park (formally more aptly named Safeco Field) and Louisville Kentucky is the site of Hillerich & Bradsby. Of, as it is more commonly known, The Louisville Slugger factory and museum.
This is not my first time to Louisville. It’s also not my first time to the Louisville Slugger museum and factory. If you take the tour, which cost about $15, you get to see where 100% of the wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made. It’s a fascinating mixture of past and present, high tech machinery and natural wood.
And when you are done with the tour, you get a “free” mini-bat that sells in the gift store for about $15.
It’s about 15 minutes from the Louisville airport to the museum. That put me at the museum in downtown Louisville about 4:00. Why lucky? Because it closes at 5:00pm. And while I’m in town for several days, my days are full from morning to late into the evening.
I didn’t take the tour this time. Instead I opted to wander around the museum. As a baseball fan, (really more of a baseball geek) this place is as close to heaven on earth as you can get. This is one of the birthplaces of modern baseball. The very walls are lined with the names of men who down through the years have shaped the very foundation of baseball.
And these men did it swinging bats marked Louisville Slugger.
The museum gives you the option of swinging some of those same Louisville Sluggers. Here I’m holding a game used Ken Griffey Jr bat. Behind me you can see the Silver Slugger awards that are awarded to the player with the highest batting average at each of the eight positions.
Here’s a life-sized replica of The Kid, elsewhere in the museum.
The curator asked if I’d like to hold an Edgar Martinez game used bat. I was still so excited about the Griffey bat, that I didn’t hear him.
No, I’m just interested in Mariner’s players.
. . .
Oh, right. You said Edgar.
Edgar Martinez spent his entire career with the Mariners. I held his bat too.
The great Babe Ruth used Louisville Sluggers. This is one of the bats he used in 1927 on his way to hitting a record setting 60 home runs. This was referred to the “notched bat” because Ruth put a notch in the bat every time he hit a home run. At one point the bat cracked and he sent it back to the factory and asked them to make more like it because, “This one has worked out pretty well for me.”
This is a replica of the uniform worn by the first professional women’s baseball teams.
They don’t call it a “Hall of Heroes” or a “Field of Dreams.” In fact, they don’t call it anything in particular. The middle of the museum is filled with life-sized statues of some of baseball’s greatest players: Ted Williams, Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey JR,
And right up front, number 42, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues in the modern era.
I only ended up in Louisville early enough to visit the museum because I wasn’t very smart about booking my travel.
They say that God watches over babies, drunks and fools. I don’t qualify for the first two, but I can certainly attest to the third one. Just lucky, I guess.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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