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October 19 - A Visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum

Hank Aaron.  Tony Gwynn.  Ron Karkovice.

Okay, so the last name mentioned doesn’t immediately strike the thought
of “greatness” into your head, but Karkovice does have something in
common with the two Hall of Famers.

They all had their signature on Louisville Slugger bats.

I recently paid a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, and I must say that I did not expect the volume
of artifacts I saw there.  For less than the cost of a matinee movie at many multiplexes, you can take a
walk through time with some of baseball’s greats – and not-so-greats.

The tour starts with a room that is a wax figure re-enactment of an Orioles-Royals game at Camden
Yards, complete with a separate dugout with Yankees wax figures.  There is also a mock radio booth
in one corner.  From there, the tour opens into a large foyer area that contains a large amount of
baseball artifacts (more on this later), and the factory area, which is possibly the most compelling
area of the entire exhibit.

This portion of the trek actually leads you through the Louisville Slugger bat factory to demonstrate the
complete process of bat creation, from the selection of the wood in Pennsylvania forests all the way to
the shipment of the bat to the person who places the order.  The tour is mostly video and audio-
based on Sundays and holidays when the workers are not in the factory, but during all other times,
the attendee is treated to the actual live bat-making process.

There are also many interesting informational tidbits during the tour, such
as the display of a bat-shaped cane, the process MLB teams go through
to order bats, and an anecdote about Ted Williams’ precision in
determining the dimensions of a bat.

Once the factory tour concludes, each person is given a miniature bat as
a souvenir of the trip.  Everyone is then led into the aforementioned foyer,
where the self-guided portion of the tour commences.  Among the things
you will see in this area are Tony Gwynn and Babe Ruth’s first Louisville Slugger contracts, a display
of the bats used by each member of the 2004 World Series participant St. Louis Cardinals and
Boston Red Sox, and an exhibit in which you can select from almost 80 different pitchers, and watch a
video of their windup, then see a baseball come from a hole at what would be the top of their motion
at the same speed of their normal fastball.  This is an impressive display, as it gives the perspective
of standing in the box against some of the hardest throwers in the game.

There is also an exhibit room, and the exhibit on display when I attended was Barbies and Baseball.  
The exhibit area, while small, plays much like a standard art museum.  The exhibit featured
numerous player figurines and paintings of such, and was well-planned.

The lobby contains a gift shop, a batting cage in which you can use real Louisville Slugger bats, and
the real jewel of the museum – the player wall.  On this wall is a replica of the signature of each
player to ever use a Louisville Slugger bat, with a special section devoted to Hall of Famers.  This wall
is truly a trip down memory lane, as you see some of the top names in the game (Hank Aaron, Tony
Gwynn) and some of the not-so-top names (Tim Pyznarski, Ron Karkovice).  

Whether you are a baseball fanatic, a history buff, or a little of both, the
Louisville Slugger Museum is a must-see for all ages and interests.  

Getting there:  The museum is located at 800 West Main Street in
Louisville, Kentucky.  It is located directly off Interstate 64 in downtown

How much does it cost?  Adult admission is $8.  Seniors and children
are allowed entry at discount rates.  Parking is available at street level (metered), or in several low-
cost surface lots in the area.

When is the museum open?  According to the official museum website, it is open at 9am every day
except Sunday (Sunday hours begin at noon), and is open until 5 or 6pm, depending on the day.  You
may want to check ahead to verify schedules.

You may also want to see:  The Louisville Bats.  The Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate is located in
Louisville, and Slugger Field is located just a short distance from the museum in downtown
Louisville.  This modern facility is reasonably-priced and easily accessible from several major
thoroughfares.  You may wish to read my review in my At The Ballpark series.
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