Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wielding the Big Bats

You walk in past the biggest bat ever (Paul Bunyan would have a time with this one that measures 120 ft.) into the factory where over 60 % of Major League players get their bats--the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

The tour starts out in an interactive area. You find out what kind of wood is used for bats and how it is harvested and learn how to tell if it is good enough for the joes (average that is) or the pros. You can compare bats from past players with those of current ones and swing them to see how they travel through the air and how they are balanced.

From there, you go into the factory itself. You see the hand lathe that used to make the bats and the computer-driven one that now makes them. Each player has his own template. The computer is programmed with his template to make his bats. Then the bats are painted or stained. The player's name is either painted on or burned into the wood. All along the tour, you get to touch and swing all sorts of bats. Especially cool were the special pink bats used on Mother's Day and then sold on eBay for breast cancer research. At the end of the tour all participants receive a mini-bat made from wood that has too many flaws to be used for bigger bats.

We then explored the wall where all the players who ever used a Louisville Slugger are listed by their signatures. There's a special spot for the Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken, my personal fave. We visited the Negro League Art Gallery, the batting cage area and of course, the gift shop. We even saw a movie about hitting taught by the pros, past and present, called "The Heart of the Game." 5 pm and closing time came too soon. (literally for us; we didn't realize that we'd passed back into Eastern Standard Time and lost an hour. :P) Next stop, Snooks'!

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