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LOUISVILLE, KY – (September 4, 2013) - It’s news that has people in the world of slow pitch softball sitting up and taking notice – Louisville Slugger is headed back to #1, and one of the sport’s biggest leaders and supporters, Jerry Backman, is going to be part of it.

Backman, involved with softball for 32 years and a long-time Super Major elite team sponsor, had taken a hiatus from the game. But he’s back, and in a big way. He’s joining Greg Blackburn of Shoppe and Mark Weber of TYJA to sponsor Shoppe/Backman/TYJA/Louisville Slugger, currently ranked the #3 Super Major team in the world.

"This team is an extremely talented group of young guys that has learned how to win,” Backman said. “They’ve sent very strong messages with their play on the field. They’re ready to overtake the older teams and become number one. With their youth, team chemistry and the incredible Z-2000 and new Z-3000 bats, I expect them to be on top for a good long time. That’s why I’m getting on board with Louisville Slugger."

Backman is known for his leadership. Those who’ve worked with him call him a great motivator who brings guidance, direction, knowledge and experience to the teams he sponsors. Backman played at the C, B, and A level from 1987–1996 and has been involved as a Major-level sponsor since 1997. His teams have won two USSSA Super Major Titles at Disney and two Smokey Mountain Classics. He had teams ranked #1 or #2 for six straight years.

"It doesn’t get any better at the Super Major level than having Jerry Backman as part of your team," said Louisville Slugger Softball Division Manager Dennis Turner. "He’s been at this game for many years and always has quality teams. He's been great for our game and has done a lot to bring integrity to the sport we love. It’s an honor to work with him."

Backman, who was part owner of the fifth-generation family-owned Aurora Casket Co. Inc., the largest privately held casket company in America, says it’s great to work with historic Louisville Slugger, also a fifth-generation family-owned company. He’s been impressed with Louisville Slugger’s commitment to returning to number one in softball.

"Louisville Slugger has been in diamond sports since 1884. It's been number one in softball before, but saw some good competitors leap ahead. But I see Louisville Slugger with a re-dedication to slow pitch. From bringing Dennis Turner on board to the innovation in creating the game’s best bats, the Z-2000 and Z-3000, it's been clear to me. Louisville Slugger is back."

The team will be called Shoppe/Backman/TYJA/Louisville Slugger for the remainder of 2013, including the USSSA Conference Championships and USSSA Men’s Major World Series at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando. In 2014 and 2015, Backman will be the marquee sponsor as the team becomes known as Backman/Shoppe/TYJA/Louisville Slugger.

About Louisville Slugger
Louisville Slugger® is synonymous with baseball and softball. It is the leading brand in diamond sports. The company makes the #1 Bat in Major League Baseball, bats that are swung by the best of the best – Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, Curtis Granderson and David Wright, among hundreds of other current MLB stars. They've all joined in Louisville Slugger's storied history to become part of a "Slugger Guy" fraternity that includes the greatest hitters to ever step up to the plate – Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, George Brett, Tony Gwynn and Ken Griffey Jr., to name just a few. Louisville Slugger also makes industry-leading equipment for youth, high school and college players. It sponsors top-level NCAA Division 1 baseball programs, including the 2012 National Champion Arizona Wildcats.

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