The authentic archival image above dates come 1892. See the man in the doorway, hold a baseball bat? that’s Bud Hillerich. Prefer a common teenager, he play hooky from his father’s woodworking shop one day once there to be something rather he wanted to do. That was the begin of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and also this is the story behind it.
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In 1842, J. Frederick Hillerich emigrated with his family from Germany come Baltimore, Maryland. They moved to Louisville in 1856, where J. Fred began a woodworking shop. By 1864 "J.F. Hillerich, project Turning" was in business and also filled assignment for whatever from spindles to shutters come steamboat interiors. The eldest son, john Andrew "Bud" Hillerich, was born in Louisville in 1866.
The business thrived and by 1875 the tiny woodworking shop employed about 20 people. In 1880, Bud, came to be an apprentice in his father"s shop. Young Bud also played amateur baseball, and also made his very own baseball bats together with bats for number of of his teammates.
There is controversy over the beginnings of the carpentry shop’s very first bat because that a professional player, yet Bud most definitely played the key role in obtaining his father"s business involved with what would end up being the company"s signature item.
According to agency legend, the very first pro bat was produced by 17-year-old Bud for Pete Browning in 1884. Browning was a megastar ~ above Louisville"s major league team, the Eclipse. One feather afternoon, Bud skipped out of occupational to watch the Eclipse play. He experienced Browning rest his bat and offered to make a new one at the woodworking shop. According to the story, in the next game Browning gained three hits with the bat Bud made.
And, oh, Pete Browning’s nickname was, "The Louisville Slugger."
Bud to be passionate around adding baseball bats come the household business, however his father wanted no part of that product. He didn’t favor baseball and also he didn’t think there was money to be made in baseball bats. J. Fred believed the future that the business was a very popular, patented, swinging butter churn.
The success that the growing bat firm took one more leap in 1905 when Honus "The flying Dutchman" Wagner, a superstar shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a contract together the an initial player ever before to endorse a bat. His autograph was additionally the very first to be offered on a bat and also the an initial time a professional athlete endorsed an athletic product.
Serious Sales and also Marketing
In 1911, open minded Bradsby, a effective salesman for among the Hillerich"s biggest buyers, joined J.F. Hillerich and also Son. The Hillerichs knew just how to make an excellent bats yet lacked experienced sales and also marketing expertise and drive. It is what Bradsby carried to the business. In 1916, he ended up being a complete partner, and also the agency name was adjusted for the last time come Hillerich & Bradsby Co.
After making tools for the troops during human being War I, Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Offered the nation during people War II by developing M-1 carbine gunstocks, monitor pins because that tanks, and also billy clubs because that the equipped forces. H&B additionally continued to make baseball and also softball bats because that the troops. Like many industries, H&B’s WWII effort was the very first time women functioned in the factory.
H&B’s lumber bat business branched out right into aluminum bats in 1970, and also moved its manufacturing facility just over the Ohio flow to southerly Indiana from 1970 to 1995 when more production room was needed. The corporate headquarters always remained in Louisville.Welcome Home
In 1996, Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Relocated into brand-new headquarters in ~ 800 West main Street, about seven blocks from the carpentry shop pictured at the height of this history.
Louisville Slugger Museum & manufacturing facility is among the ar most well-known attractions. The world-famous basic is tough to miss, just look for The large Bat, the world"s biggest baseball bat, delighting guests together they enter. Come date, much more than 4-million civilization have delighted in the museum and factory tour endure at this location.
H&B’s present President and CEO, man A. Hillerich IV, is the great-grandson of Bud Hillerich, the baseball fan who introduced the family business to baseball ago in the 1800s.
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In 2015, Wilson Sporting items bought the Louisville Slugger brand native H&B, i m sorry still own Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and also the manufacturing facility. Specifically for Wilson now, H&B continues to produce Louisville Slugger bats in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Hillerich family very first arrived in 1856.