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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German Woodworking Roots

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.

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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."

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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.

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However, Bud Hillerich continued to press for and also improve the bat-making business, and even developed some patented processes.

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The Hillerich’s baseball bat service grew. The name "Louisville Slugger" ended up being their registered trademark in 1894, and Bud join his father as a companion in 1897.

Enter The paris Dutchman

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.

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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.

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A terrible flood along the Ohio river in 1937 did significant damage come the business. Working almost nonstop because that weeks to fix the factory, candid Bradsby to be worn down and also died later that year. Bradsby had actually no heirs, but the Hillerich family has kept his surname on the company as a tribute come his exceptional contributions come the growth of the company.

WWII

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.

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After the war, baseball lugged on together the country’s passionate pastime, and also Louisville Slugger bats dominated as the pole of choice for the best players in the game. Because that first contract v Honus Wagner in 1905, generations that legends have swung Louisville slugger bats, including: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr, and also Derek Jeter.

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.