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129 years of innovation
We believe a mark is more then simply a visual. It is a signifier of change. If you have ever taken a swing with a louisville slugger or ever watched one being swung,
you are part of this
1884: 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.
The First Title
1885: Pete Browning wins his first batting title wielding a Louisville Slugger. He would go on to win seven more.
1886: Cap Anson of the Chicago Cubs sets the single-season RBI mark when he knocks in 147 runs.
1887: The first rule defining the strike zone is created.
"Casey at the Bat"
1888: Ernest L. Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" first appears in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3. It would not gain popularity until DeWolf Hopper’s first stage recitation in August.
1889: Mickey Welch becomes the first pinch hitter in major league history. Unfortunately for Welch, he strikes out.
Falls City Slugger
1890: Simmon's Hardware Company of St. Louis signs an agreement with the Hillerichs to handle all bat sales, except those for professional baseball players and a few chosen outlets. The bat turned by young Bud Hillerich six years before has now become known as the “Falls City Slugger,” named for the Falls of the Ohio River – a stretch of rapids on the Ohio at Louisville.
1891: The American Association folded in December leaving the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Browns, Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators to be absorbed into the National League the following season.
Round it Out
1892: The National League and American Association of Base Ball Clubs rules that bats are no longer allowed to have a flat side, and must be round.
1893: The pitcher’s mound is moved to sixty feet, six inches from home plate.
Louisville Slugger logo
1894: The soon-to-be-world-famous name "Louisville Slugger" is registered with the United States Government as an official trademark.
1895: In the late 1800s, Louisville Slugger puts its first semi-automatic Defiance lathes into use.
1896: On July 12th, Ed Delahanty of the Philadelphia Phillies hit four inside-the-park homers in a 9-8 loss to the Chicago Colts.
Like Father, Like Son
1897: The name of the firm is changed to "J.F. Hillerich & Son," reflecting Bud's growing involvement in the business.
1898: On May 20, Thomas Edison makes the first ever recording of baseball. The camera is positioned behind first base and shows a baseball game in progress.
1899: The Louisville Colonels play their last season in Louisville. Many Colonel players, including Honus Wagner, are traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates before the team officially folded at the end of the year.
A League is Born
1900: The National League and the American Association of Base Ball Clubs, a.k.a. the “Senior Circuit,” formally changes its name to the National League.
1901: Following in the footsteps of the National League, the “Junior Circuit” would officially form the American League.
1902: Former part-owner of the Louisville Colonels, Harry Pulliam, is elected President of the National League.
The First of Many
1903: Louisville Slugger is wielded in the first modern World Series… and every World Series ever since.
1904: New York Giants' Dan McGann stole five bases on May 27th in a 3-1 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. This record for steals in a single game would last until 1991.
1905: On September 1, Honus Wagner, "The Flying Dutchman," signed 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.
1906: Napoléon "Nap" Lajoie, also known as "The Frenchman," signs with Louisville Slugger. Over the course of his career, "Nap" would become a five-time American League batting champion and two-time American League RBI champion.
1907: On September 14th, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds combined for twenty-nine combined hits in a game. All hits were singles.
1908: Ty Cobb signs a contract with J.F. Hillerich & Son for autographed Louisville Slugger bats. Among his other records, Cobb, one of baseball’s greats, would bat .400 three times and win 12 batting titles, the all-time most.
1909: Ty Cobb leads the league with nine home runs…all of which were hit inside-the-park.
1910: Eddie "Cocky" Collins, second baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics, signs on with Louisville Slugger. Collins would go on to be a four-time World Series champion and still holds the record for most sacrifice hits, at 512.
Shoeless Joe Jackson
1911: In his rookie year, Slugger player Shoeless Joe Jackson bats .408.
1912: Fenway Park opens in Boston on April 20
Practicing outside the USA
1913: The New York Yankees are the first team to hold practice outside of the United States when they hold some spring training games in Bermuda.
1914: Wrigley Field opens in Chicago.
1915: On April 6th, Babe Ruth hits his first Major League home run off of the New York Yankees’ Jack Warhop.
1916: The name of the company makes the last change in its history to become "Hillerich & Bradsby Company," for sales and marketing guru Frank W. Bradsby.
1917: Louisville Slugger supplies YMCA with baseball bats for American troops serving in World War I.
1918: Louisville Slugger signs George Herman "Babe" Ruth to a bat contract. He would go on to become the greatest home run hitter of all time and recognized as the best to ever play the game. The Babe’s bat was 36” long, weighed 42 ounces and had a medium barrel and handle.
Keep it Clean
1919: The National League bans the use of spitballs during game play.
1920: The New York Yankees officially announce the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox.
Shoeless is Banned
1921: Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other members of the Chicago White Sox are banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis over fixing games in the World Series.
1922: Rogers Hornsby finishes the season with a .401 batting average, making him the first National League player to hit over .400 since 1899.
Yankee Stadium Opens
1923: On April 18, Yankee Stadium opens.
1924: Slugger Guy Al Simmons debuts for the Philadelphia Athletics. “Bucketfoot Al” played with the longest bat in Louisville Slugger history, which measured 38 inches. Slugger.com
Keep the Change
1925: A plan was adopted by American League owners to alternate the site of future World Series openers by league rather than by coin toss.
1926: Slugger Guy Satchel Paige makes his debut in the Negro Southern League on May 1st.
Babe Hits Sixty
1927: Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs to set the record for most in a single season. A bat he used from this season is on display at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
1928: Ty Cobb retires after 24 seasons. His career .366 batting average is still the highest all-time.
1929: The New York Yankees began adding numbers to the back of their players’ uniform s. Each number represented their spot in the hitting lineup.
King of RBI’s
1930: Hack Wilson of the Chicago Cubs knocks in 191 RBIs in a single season. This record still stands today.
The First Night
1931: On February 21st, the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants play in the first Major League night game in Houston, Texas.
By the Numbers
1932: National League club presidents join the American League and approve the use of numbers on the back of player uniforms.
First All-Star Game
1933: Babe Ruth knocks in Charlie Gerhinger with a 2-run home run to help the American League defeat the National League 4-2 in the first All-Star Game.
1934: Hillerich & Bradsby Company celebrates the 50th anniversary of the turning of the first Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
Babe’s Last Game
1935: Hall-of-Famer and Slugger Babe Ruth plays in his final Major League game on May 30th.
The First Hall of Famers
1936: The Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed its first class of players with the induction of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.
1937: A devastating flood damages the company’s offices and factory. While the material loss was small, the strain and hard work following the flood contributed to Frank Bradsby’s death.
1938: Slugger player Lou Gehrig hits his 23rd grand slam of his career, a record that still stands today.
1939: Lou Gehrig retires. During a speech in front of Yankees fans, Gehrig said "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
1940: Jimmie Foxx hits two home runs to move past Lou Gehrig on the all-time home runs list on August 16th.
1941: Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees swings his Louisville Slugger bats to establish a record 56 game hit streak. The third and record setting bat from the streak are on display in the Louisville Slugger Museum.
Helping the USofA
1942: H&B aids in the war production effort with the manufacturing of bats, M1 carbine stocks and tank pins for the United States Armed Forces.
1943: With over sixty players serving in World War II, the Major League season starts two weeks late.
St. Louis Showdown
1944: The first World Series featuring two teams based west of the Mississippi River was played when the St. Louis Browns defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1.
1945: The All-Star Game is cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions.
Ahead of the Game
1946: Louisville Slugger signs Jackie Robinson to a bat contract on October 31, five and a half months before Robinson would break the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April of 1947.
1947: Larry Doby becomes the first African-American player to play in the American League on July 5th.
Stan “The Man”
1948: Stan “The Man” Musial has four five-hit games en route to winning the NL batting title with a .376 average.
1949: The first Silver Bats – presented annually to the batting champions of the American and National Leagues – are awarded to George Kell of the Detroit Tigers and Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1950: Billy Goodman wins the batting championship while playing for the Boston Red Sox. Goodman used the lightest bat at 30 ounces.
1951: New York Yankees rookie and Slugger player Mickey Mantle hits two home runs and knocks in seven runs in a 15-1 exhibition game win over the University of California.
1952: Ted Williams hits a game-winning home run on his last game of the season on April 30th. Williams spent the remainder of the season serving as a Marine fighter pilot in the Korean War.
1953: The Boston Braves move to Milwaukee to become the Milwaukee Braves. It is the first time since 1903 that a franchise has moved to a different city.
1954: Stan Musial hits five home runs during a double header with the New York Giants.
One Year, Three Hall-of-Famers
1955: Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax all make their Major League debut. All would go on to Hall-of-Fame careers.
1956: On July 17, Slugger guy Ted Williams becomes the fifth player ever to hit 400 home runs.
Leaving the Big Apple
1957: The Dodgers and Giants both announce that they are leaving New York City to play in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
1958: Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced that players and coaches would select players for the All-Star Game rather than fans.
1959: Cleveland’s Rocky Colavito hits four home runs in a single game against the Baltimore Orioles.
1960: The Chicago White Sox become the first team to feature player names on the backs of their jerseys.
Maris Beats Babe
1961: Roger Maris hits 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth’s 1927 single-season mark of 60. A bat Maris used early in the 1961 season can be seen at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
1962: Edd Roush is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Roush is distinguished by wielding Louisville Slugger’s heaviest bat, weighing in at 48 ounces.
1963: Jose Cardenal begins his 18-season career with the San Francisco Giants. His bat model, the C271, is the most popular model used by professional players today.
From the Left, From the Right
1964: Mickey Mantle hits two home runs in a game against the Chicago White Sox…one from each side of the plate.
1965: The Astrodome, Major League Baseball’s first indoor stadium, opens.
1966: Slugger player Frank Robinson wins the American League MVP, becoming the first player in history to win that award in both leagues.
Carl’s Triple Crown
1967: Boston’s Carl Yaztrzemski does Slugger proud and wins the triple crown, leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
1968: Hank Aaron joins the exclusive 500 home run club with a three-run home run against the Giants on June 14th.
John A. Hillerich III
1969: John A. Hillerich III becomes CEO of the company.
Alcoa Aluminum Company
1970: H&B contracts Alcoa Aluminum Company to manufacture the first aluminum bat for Hillerich & Bradsby Company.
1971: “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, hits his 512th home run, the final of his career.
1972: Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash while taking humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors in Nicaragua.
1973: A unanimous decision was made by all Major League Baseball owners to introduce the Designated Hitter in the American League.
1974: Slugger player Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run, passing Babe Ruth to become the all-time home run leader.
1975: H&B enters the glove and mitt business with its first Louisville Slugger line of baseball and softball gloves.
Hank Aaron’s Last
1976: Slugger player Hank Aaron hits his 755th and final home run of his career to set the all-time mark.
The Reds Sweep
1977: The Cincinnati Reds, behind World Series MVP and Slugger player Johnny Bench, sweep the New York Yankees for the second consecutive World Series title.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
1978: The Baltimore Orioles select a high-school phenom from Aberdeen, MD named Cal Ripken, Jr.
1979: Carl Yastrzemski hits his 400th career home run and 3000th hit, becoming the first American League player to achieve both of these numbers.
1980: Kansas City’s George Brett hits .390 for the season, making it the highest single-season mark since Ted Williams’ .406 average in 1941.
1981: 38 percent of the season is lost when the players strike over the issue of free-agent compensation.
1982: Rickey Henderson becomes the first player in 95 years to steal 130 bases in a single season.
“Pine Tar Incident”
1983: After hitting a three-run home run, George Brett is called out for having more than eighteen inches of pine tar on his bat in what is known as the “Pine Tar Incident.”
1984: H&B celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
1985: On August 4th, Rod Carew becomes only the sixteenth player in Major League History to have 3,000 career hits.
1986: Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens sets the Major League record for strikeouts in a game when he fans 20 Seattle Mariners on April 29th.
Ken Griffey Jr.
1987: High school outfielder and future Slugger player Ken Griffey Jr. is selected with the first overall pick by the Seattle Mariners.
1988: The first night game is played at Wrigley Field in the stadium’s 76-year history.
Earthquake in San Fran
1989: A 6.9 magnitude earthquake strikes the San Francisco bay area on October 17th as the Giants and Athletics took warm-ups prior to Game 3 of the World Series. The game was rescheduled for October 27th.
1990: The National League announced that it would be expanding to 14 teams. This eventually led to the birth of the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies.
1991: Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox since 1910 and the site of the first All-Star game in 1933, was demolished.
1992: After a two homerun game, Slugger Guy Eddie Murray passes Mickey Mantle for the most RBIs by a switch hitter. He would finish his career knocking in 1,917.
1993: Chicago White Sox catcher and Slugger player Carlton Fisk catches his 2,226th game, more than any other catcher in baseball history.
Building a Record
1994: Tony Gwynn wins the first of four Silver Bats in a row. He holds the record at eight total Silver Bats won over the course of his career.
World's Biggest Bat
1995: H&B moves the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat in front of the new headquarters and museum in downtown Louisville. The bat, made from ASTM A36 carbon steel, is 120 feet long and weighs approximately 68,000 pounds.
1996: July 17, 2006 The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory opens up at 800 West Main Street in Louisville. About 200,000 visitors arrive in the first year.
Making it Official
1997: After a long informal partnership dating for over 100 years, Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball moved to a new level of cooperation by signing an agreement making Louisville Slugger the Official Bat Supplier of Major League Baseball.
1998: The Bronx Bombers dominate the American League with 114 regular season wins. They would add 11 more wins on their way to a World Series sweep.
Jeter Joins Slugger
1999: Derek Jeter officially joins the Louisville Slugger family when he signs a contract with H&B. Jeter has used a P72 Louisville Slugger since he was in the minor leagues.
Giambi and Kent
2000: Slugger players Jason Giambi and Jeff Kent both win the MVP, Giambi for the American League and Kent for the National League.
A Fan's Dream
2001: Louisville Slugger Museum rewards its 1,000,000th visitor with a prize package that includes an all-expense trip for two to the third game of the World Series.
Crack of the Bat
2002: Louisville author Bob Hill publishes a book on the history of Louisville Slugger titled, “Crack of the Bat.” The book chronicles the history of Hillerich & Bradsby Co. and its signature product, the Louisville Slugger bat, as well as the company’s unique place in baseball history.
Marlins beat Yankees
2003: Instead of a World Series featuring the Cubs and Red Sox, two teams that had not won a championship in over 80 years, the Fall Classic saw the Florida Marlins defeat Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees in six games.
2004: Jessica Mendoza and Team USA win the Gold Medal in Women’s Softball during the Athens Summer Games.
2005: In continuing its long-running support of US troops, Operation Slugger kicks off. The program collects and delivers sports equipment to troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Walk of Fame
2006: The Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame is introduced on the sidewalks of downtown Louisville. It honors some of the greatest hitters and players in baseball and Fastpitch softball history who were under contract with Louisville Slugger.
Tony and Cal
2007: Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
2008: Nationals Park opens up in Washington D.C. Ryan Zimmerman christens the new ballpark by hitting a walk-off home run in the home opener.
2009: Louisville Slugger celebrates its 125th anniversary with a major renovation of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The celebration also includes the writing and distribution of a book by David Magee and Philip Shirley titled "The Sweet Spot, 125 Years of Baseball and Louisville Slugger."
2 MVPs, 2 Bats
2010: Slugger contract players Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto each win the MVP Award. Both players also each played in Louisville with the Louisville Bats.
Heroes at Bat
2011: The company begins sponsorship of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. The players are veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars who lost limbs in combat. The team is an inspiration to all who see them play.
Maple and Veneer
2012: 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 quickly becomes popular with other players around MLB because of their durability and appearance.