Get the Most of Your Tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky

The big bat outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville Kentucky.A tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Kentucky is not just for fans of baseball. Sure, Louisville Sluggers are the official bats of Major League Baseball and those who love the boys of summer will be happy here. But the point is — what’s wrong with you that you’re not a baseball fan?!

Seriously, there’s so much to appreciate on a tour here that’s beyond sports: Conservation, ingenuity, American history.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

Some Background for Your Louisville Slugger Factory Tour

Too often, visitors overlook the exhibit that offers some of the fun history of the company that is today the Louisville Slugger. It started on a beautiful spring day and a 17-year-old kid skipping out on chores at his dad’s woodworking shop to attend a baseball game. The kid was Bud Hillerich. Having a bad day at bat that afternoon was Pete Browning, an outfielder for the Louisville Eclipse.

Pete Browning was the original Louisville Slugger

Pete Browning. Copyright Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Browning broke his bat and cheeky, young Bud Hillerich offered to make him a new one at his dad’s shop, which he did with Browning providing directions over his shoulder. Browning eventually ended his career with a .341 batting average, three batting championship trophies and the nickname “The Louisville Slugger.”

It was 1883 when Bud skipped school, but not until 1894 did the little wood shop officially change its name to The Louisville Slugger.

However, the official company name is Hillerich and Bradsby. Frank Bradsby was a sales person-turned-business-partner who began the idea of athlete endorsements of a product. It had never been done before Hall of Famer Honus Wagner put his name on a Louisville Slugger.

The Making of a Louisville Slugger

Your tour at the Louisville Slugger Museum begins in a forest in Pennsylvania. Actually, it begins in theater that shows a brief movie shot in a forest in Pennsylvania, a forest owned by the Hillerich and Bradsby Company.

A stack of wooden dowels ready to be shaped into Louisville Slugger bats.The Louisville Slugger Factory has produced more than 100 million wooden baseball bats in its lifetime. Birch is considered the best wood for a bat. Red ash is also popular because of its flexibility. Maple makes for a hard wooden bat, but it’s also very brittle and very heavy. It comes down to the hitter’s preference.

Tree exhibit at Louisville Slugger Museum in kentuckyBut that many bats require a lot of trees. An average mature tree, about 65 years old, will produce about 60 bats. So the tour guide emphasizes the company’s efforts to maintain quality in the forest they own. In so doing, they plant more trees than they harvest and leave the very best trees to maintain the quality and integrity of the forest.

Here’s some fun trivia: In making all of those wooden bats, the Louisville Slugger Factory generates about 32,000 pounds of sawdust a month. They sell it to local turkey farmers in Indiana and Kentucky for bedding for their gobblers. Bring that up for discussion during your family Thanksgiving dinner.

Touring the Louisville Slugger Museum

A machine spins and shapes a wooden baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky.Touring the museum and touring the factory are two different things. The factory tour is guided and takes about 45 minutes. They keep you on track, allowing you to handle some of the wood and the bats.

This is where, even if you don’t care about baseball, you will love the American ingenuity that brings the equipment together to make this product. It’s fascinating to see a big chunk of wood whirled and spun, saw dust flying, and all of a sudden, you have a bat. You see them applying the brand, dip it in the varnish and lots of interesting details.

When it’s over, they give you a mini-bat of your own. Tip: pack that in your checked luggage if you are flying. TSA doesn’t like you carrying bats on board an airplane, even mini-bats.

A museum assistant at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky answers questions about turning a wooden bat.But if you’re really a geek about woodworking and how things work, you’ll have a chance to ask all of the questions you like after the tour.

We spent several minutes watching Jim Bower turn a bat outside in the museum, and peppered him with questions. There’s another museum assistant nearby that demonstrates the burning the Louisville Slugger brand in the wooden bat.

You can spend a lot of time hanging out in the museum, reading displays, playing.

How Much Time Does it Take to Tour the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

Someone asked me how much time they should schedule for a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. That answer depends entirely on you, who you are traveling with and their interests in these things. Officially, the company says to plan on about 90 minutes. We spent about three hours at the museum and could have spent longer.

Personally, I was delighted to see a nice little exhibit about professional baseball players who had served in the U.S. military. It started with WWI, and I’m passionate about that period of time, so I read it all. Maybe you won’t. I also found it interesting that during WWII, the factory stayed in operation but also made wooden rifle stocks for the U.S. Army.

Exhibit at All American Girls Professional Baseball League at Louisville Slugger Museum in KentuckyI loved the exhibit on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Not only did the league use Louisville Slugger bats, not only did players in the league personally tour the factory in 1948, but the Louisville Slugger Factory made bats for the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.”

It was shot, BTW, at Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, just two hours away.

And the factory made bats used by some of the great players of the Negro Leagues, those who played the game so passionately before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey shook things up in April 1946. That exhibit could take a lot of your time as well, especially if you pull out the drawers and really dig into the story.

BTW, if you’ve not been to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, GO!

Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame

As you approach the museum on the outside, you’ll notice bronze bats balanced on a bronze home plate outside of the building.

The bronze bats and home plates of the Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame in Kentucky.This is the Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame. It’s all of the great ones who have used a Louisville Slugger. Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Cool Papa Bell, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson. There are more than 60 of these over a mile around the block. If you stop and read each one of those, you’ll be there a while.

And then if wait to get everyone else out of the way so you can take a people-free picture of you and your family in front of the big bat out front, that could take a while depending on how crowded it is.

And you’re not even in the front door yet.

One thing that we didn’t take time or invest the money to do was visiting the Bat Vault. For an additional $5, you can have a little mini-tour of the bat vault where you handle the bats custom made for some of the greats. Mickey Mantle. Hank Aaron. Stan Musial. Babe Ruth. I need to go back.

Tips for Saving Money on a Louisville Slugger Museum Tour

The Louisville Slugger Museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

HOWEVER, in the summer, the museum stays open until 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

AND the price for admission is discounted to $7 per person. That’s more than half off for adults and a savings of $2 each for kids from 6 – 12 years old. You can’t beat that.

Sign up for the Louisville Slugger newsletter and receive a 10 percent discount coupon off of the website for purchases in the museum store.

While there is a lot of parking on Main Street, we were told the city is very strict about checking the meters. So I would suggest pulling into the big parking garage just behind the museum off of 8th Street. You can park for four hours or more for $10.

Lou Brock exhibit at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Kentucky.And take time to enjoy. This is, after all, the heart beat of America’s favorite past time.

“If you didn’t have a Louisville Slugger in your hands, you weren’t playing baseball.” – Lou Brock

When You Really Love Baseball…