Iconic Louisville Slugger bats get a makeover
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The familiar smell of hot dogs and freshly cut grass on Opening Day will be complemented by changes to the iconic Louisville Slugger bat, which is now made with firmer wood and stamped with a new logo.
The 129-year-old manufacturer hopes the harder bat, which is less likely to splinter, and more modern logo will help the family-owned company stay relevant in the sporting good supply market and ahead of competitors in luring younger ballplayers to its products.
The new logo is the first such change since the company dropped the “Hillerich & Bradsby” name from the center of its oval design and replaced it with “Louisville Slugger” in 1980. And the new bats, which are made from a high-grade wood and processed to enhance the surface's hardness, are the biggest change in the hardware since the introduction of cup-ended bats in 1972.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Do you really need to change it?' ” Louisville Slugger CEO John Hillerich said. “Our greatest asset is our brand.”
The changes were the result of a multi-year process that involved talking with everyone from corporate partners to players about what they wanted in a bat to how the new logo looked on the equipment.
The new bats — made of ash or maple — are designed to be harder than previous models. Bobby Hillerich, director of wood bat manufacturing for Louisville Slugger, said new selection processes for the wood, as well as drying and processing methods, have created a bat hard enough to reach a grade of “9h,” the highest rating possible by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Part of the aim of the new bat is to keep it from splintering. In recent years, baseball officials have been concerned about maple bats breaking or shattering, creating potential hazards for infielders. Bobby Hillerich said the new bats have held up well in tests.
“The crack of the bat is just so much different because of the drying process,” Hillerich said.
Howard Smith, vice president of licensing for Major League Baseball, said players tested the new bats toward the end of the 2012 season and gave it “rave reviews.” Louisville Slugger has refined bat-making to a science, Smith said.
“In terms of the slope of the grain, which determines how hard the wood will be, Louisville has been able to harvest the best wood with the most perfect as you can get slope of grain,” Smith said. “It has absolutely contributed to less bats breaking on the field.”
With the new bats comes a new look. The old Louisville Slugger logo — an oval featuring the company name at the center with the number “125” above it — is being replaced by a new logo that keeps the oval but slightly alters the look of the Louisville Slugger name and has an interlocking “LS” above it. The bats also will feature a player's signature boxed in by the Louisville Slugger name, the model number, a notation that the bat is genuine and the wood from which it is made.
Older bats featured the model number and the Louisville Slugger name in parallel lines around a player's signature.
“We saw the brand in need of a small bit of an infusion of modernity,” said Kyle Schlegel, vice president of global marketing for Hillerich & Bradsby.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.