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Louisville Slugger® – Making Baseball History Since 1884

1859 Founded in Louisville, Ky.
German immigrant J. Frederich Hillerich opens a woodworking shop in Louisville, Ky. The company makes bedposts, tenpins, duckpins, wooden bowling balls, newel posts, handrails and porch columns that dignify Louisville mansions.
 
1880 Bud Becomes an Apprentice
14-year-old John A. "Bud" Hillerich starts an apprenticeship in his father’s woodworking shop.
 
1884 Bud Makes First Louisville Slugger Bat
Bud Hillerich turns a wooden baseball bat for Pete “The Old Gladiator” Browning, who played for the Louisville Eclipse Baseball Team of the American Association. This was the first Louisville Slugger bat ever made.
 
1894 "Louisville Slugger" is a Registered Trademark
The soon-to-be-world-famous name, "Louisville Slugger," is registered with the United States government as an official trademark.
 
1905 Honus Wagner, "The Flying Dutchman," Signs Contract
On September 1, 1905, Honus Wagner, "The Flying Dutchman," signs a contract giving J.F. Hillerich & Son permission to use his autograph on Louisville Slugger bats. Not only was Wagner the first of countless baseball stars to sign a contract with the Hillerichs, but he was also the first known professional athlete to endorse a retail product.
 
1908 Ty Cobb Joins Slugger
Ty Cobb signs a contract with J.F. Hillerich & Son for autographed Louisville Slugger bats.
 
1927 Babe Hits 60 Home Runs
As part of the famous Murderers Row lineup, Babe Ruth swings the Slugger R43 to set the single-season home run standard at 60 home runs. Ruth used this bat, now on display at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, to hit 21 of his 60 homers. The bat has 21 notches, one for each home run Ruth hit with it.
 
1934 Japan Introduced to Baseball
Bud Hillerich joins Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a tour of Japan where they introduce the country to professional baseball.
 
1941 Ted Williams Hits .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox swings his Louisville Slugger bats to hit an astonishing .406 for the season. He was the last Major Leaguer to bat over .400 in a season.
 
1946 Jackie Robinson Signs & Breaks Color Barrier
Louisville Slugger signs Jackie Robinson to a bat contract on October 31, 1946 – almost six months before Robinson would break the color barrier in Major League Baseball® when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April of 1947.
 
1949 Silver Bat Award
Louisville Slugger creates the Silver Bat Award to honor the batting champions in the American and National Leagues. George Kell of the Tigers is the first AL recipient. Jackie Robinson of the Dodgers receives the first NL award.
 
1961 Mantle vs. Maris Home Run Battle
Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris of the New York Yankees stage an epic home run battle while swinging their Louisville Slugger bats. Maris would eclipse Babe Ruth's single season record of 60 HRs by hitting 61 in a 162-game season. Ruth achieved his record in a 154-game season.
 
1970 First H&B Aluminum Bat
H&B contracts Alcoa Aluminum Company to manufacture the first aluminum bat for Hillerich & Bradsby Company.
 
1972 Introduction of the Cupped Bat, Made for Jose Cardenal.
The bat provides balance and helps hitters get through the hitting zone quicker.
 
1974 All-Time Home Run KING
Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run with a Louisville Slugger to become the all-time home run king, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. He would finish his career with 755 home runs.
 
1975 First Louisville Slugger Line of Gloves
The storied bat company enters the glove and mitt business with its first Louisville Slugger line of baseball and softball gloves. The company promotes the gloves by signing one of the best defensive shortstops of all-time, Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles, to a glove contract.
 
1980 First Major Change to the Company’s Logo
Louisville Slugger takes over the famous oval on baseball bats, replacing the Hillerich & Bradsby Co./Louisville Slugger/Louisville, Kentucky.
 
1980 Silver Slugger™ Awards
The Silver Slugger Awards are created to recognize the top hitters in the MLB® at each position.
 
1985 Pete Rose Breaks All-Time Hits Record
Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record with his 4,192nd hit.
 
1991 The Greatest World Series EVER
Kirby Puckett swings Slugger for a walk-off home run in Game 6 of the World Series, a series most call the greatest World Series ever. 69 total innings. Five games decided by a single run. Four games decided in the final at-bat. Three extra-inning games. Twins over Braves four games to three.
 
1995 The Big Bat
H&B moves the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat in front of the new headquarters and museum, still under construction on Main Street, in downtown Louisville.
 
1996 First Fastpitch Bat
Louisville Slugger becomes the first company to design and make equipment specifically for women fastpitch players. Dot Richardson and Lisa Fernandez swing Slugger bats to lead the U.S. Olympic team to gold in Atlanta.
 
1997 Official Bat of the MLB
After a long informal partnership dating for over 100 years, Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball move to a new level of cooperation by signing an agreement making Louisville Slugger the Official Bat Supplier of Major League Baseball.
 
1998 Cal Ripken Jr.’s Final Game of "The Streak"
With Slugger in hand for every game, Cal Ripken Jr. plays his final game of "The Streak," setting the all-time record for consecutive games played at 2,632.
 
2005 First Composite Bat
Louisville Slugger markets the company’s first internally designed and manufactured composite material bat made from aerospace grade fibers and epoxy resins. The "Catalyst" bat is used by the University of Michigan fastpitch team to win the Women’s College World Series, becoming the first team east of the Mississippi River to do so.
 
2006 The Pink Bat
Louisville Slugger creates the pink bat used by MLB players on Mother’s Day to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. Public demand for the bats is great, so the company offers personalized versions to the public with a large portion of proceeds going to MLB’s breast cancer charities.
 
2008 Hamilton Crushes Home Run Derby Record
Josh Hamilton sets a Home Run Derby record at the All-Star Game by crushing 20 home runs with his Louisville Slugger bat in the first round.
 
2009 Major Renovation of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Louisville Slugger celebrates its 125th anniversary with a major renovation of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which opened in 1996 and has since welcomed over 3 million visitors. The celebration also included the writing and distribution of a book by David Magee and Philip Shirley titled "The Sweet Spot, 125 Years of Baseball and Louisville Slugger."
 
2011 Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team Partnership
Louisville Slugger partners with WWAST, a team comprised of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who lost limbs in combat. The team is an inspiration to all who see them play, as they prove that life without limbs is limitless.
 
2011 Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients Come to Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Louisville Slugger hosts more than 60 living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients at the Museum & Factory. Each MOH recipient receives a personalized Louisville Slugger bat engraved with the MOH emblem.
 
2012 Compressed Maple, Veneer Bats Introduced
Louisville Slugger introduces new compressed maple and veneer maple to its MLB player bat offerings. Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers becomes the first to use the wood, and it quickly becomes popular with other players around MLB because of its durability and appearance.
 
2013 Louisville Slugger Brand Identity Change
Louisville Slugger changes its brand identity for the first time in 33 years. It is the company’s second significant change since its first bat was made in 1884. The logo was developed after a tremendous amount of research with players at the MLB, college and amateur levels. At the same time, the historic company introduces MLB Prime™, significant innovations in the manufacturing process of wood bats.

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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