Hillerich & Bradsby
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|Formerly||J.F. Hillerich & Son (1855-1916) |
|Founder||John A. "Bud" Hillerich |
|John A. Hillerich IV (CEO, 2001-present)|
Number of employees
Hillerich & Bradsby Company (H&B) is a company located in Louisville, Kentucky that produces the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in downtown Louisville features a retrospective of the product and its use throughout baseball history. H&B also sells a variety of gloves for activities such as golf, fitness, gardening, and cycling under the Bionic Gloves brand.
J. F. Hillerich opened his woodworking shop in Louisville in 1855. During the 1880s, Hillerich hired his seventeen-year-old son, John "Bud" Hillerich. Legend has it that Bud, who played baseball himself, slipped away from work one afternoon in 1884 to watch Louisville's major league team, the Louisville Eclipse. The team's star, Pete "Louisville Slugger" Browning, mired in a hitting slump, broke his bat.
Bud invited Browning to his father's shop to hand-craft a new bat to his specifications. Browning accepted the offer, and got three hits to break out of his slump with the new bat the first day he used it. Browning told his teammates, which began a surge of professional ball players to the Hillerich woodworking shop.
J. F. Hillerich was uninterested in making bats. He saw the company future in stair railings, porch columns and swinging butter churns. For a brief time in the 1880s, he turned away ball players. Bud saw the potential in producing baseball bats, and the elder Hillerich eventually relented to his son.
The bats were sold under the name "Falls City Slugger" until Bud Hillerich took over his father's company in 1894, and the name "Louisville Slugger" was registered with the US Patent Office. In 1905, Honus Wagner signed a deal with the company, becoming the first baseball player to officially endorse a bat.
Frank Bradsby, a salesman, became a partner in 1916, and the company's name changed to "The Hillerich and Bradsby Co." By 1923, H&B was selling more bats than any other bat maker in the country, and legends like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth (R-43), and Lou Gehrig were all using them. R-43 is the company model number for the bats used by Babe Ruth.
During World War II, the company produced wooden rifle stocks and billy clubs for the U.S. Army. In 1954, the company purchased Larimer and Norton, Inc., a Pennsylvania lumber company to ensure a supply of hardwood for their products.
In 1976, the company moved across the Ohio River, to Jeffersonville, Indiana, to take advantage of the railroad line there. In the 1990s, the company returned to Louisville.
Threat to business
Most of Hillerich and Bradsby's wood bats are made from Northern white ash grown in proprietary forests on the New York–Pennsylvania border. Ash trees in the US are now under attack from the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect species native to Asia and first detected in Michigan in 2002. While H&B's forests are not yet infested by the beetle, the area being destroyed is growing and moving closer to them. The company is making plans to utilize other woods in the event North America's ash forests are totally destroyed.
P72 baseball bat
The P72 model bat was created in 1954 for professional baseball player Leslie Wayne Pinkham. It became one of baseball's most popular bats. Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Robin Yount are among the players who used the P72 over the years. New York Yankee Derek Jeter used the P72 for every at bat in his 20 MLB seasons, with over 12,500 plate appearances. On September 25, 2014, in honor of Jeter's impending retirement, the P72 designation was retired, and the bat was renamed the DJ2 (Jeter wore #2). Descendants of Les Pinkam will still be allowed to get the bat with its P72 designation.
In addition to retiring the P72 model number, Louisville Slugger also promised to give the final 72 P72 bats produced to Jeter to raise funds for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Branches of the company
There are three branches of Hillerich & Bradsby: Louisville Slugger, Bionic Gloves, and Powerbilt Golf. Bionic Gloves were designed by a leading orthopedic surgeon, and are used in many sports and recreational activities. Currently, there are 11 types of gloves: Golf, Gardening, Tennis, Fitness, Equestrian, Driving, Dress, Motorcycle, Racquetball, Baseball, and Drummer gloves. Powerbilt Golf produces many types of golf clubs. They recently introduced clubs that feature nitrogen charged technology.
Besides its products, H&B attaches the Louisville Slugger name to other entities as a sponsor. The Cincinnati Reds' Triple A affiliate, the Louisville Bats, play at Louisville Slugger Field in downtown Louisville. The Louisville Slugger name is also attached to awards for top power-hitters at both the high school and college levels, and the Silver Slugger Award given annually to the Major League Baseball player with the best offensive output in each position. The Louisville Slugger Batting Champion award is given to the American Legion "player with the highest batting average during national competition."
MLB players who use Louisville Slugger
- Pedro Álvarez
- Brandon Belt
- Jay Bruce
- Starlin Castro
- Nelson Cruz
- Michael Cuddyer
- Chris Davis
- Evan Gattis
- Curtis Granderson
- Billy Hamilton
- Jason Heyward
- Adam Jones
- Ian Kinsler 
- DJ LeMahieu
- Evan Longoria
- Ryan McMahon
- Dustin Pedroia
- Brandon Phillips
- Buster Posey
- Jurickson Profar
- Hanley Ramírez
- Ben Revere
- Carlos Santana
- Trevor Story
- Justin Upton
- Joey Votto
- Ryan Zimmerman
Former MLB players
- Hank Aaron 
- Jeff Bagwell
- Ernie Banks
- Nellie Fox
- Johnny Bench
- Wade Boggs 
- George Brett 
- Rod Carew 
- Roberto Clemente 
- Ty Cobb 
- Andre Ethier
- Lou Gehrig 
- Ken Griffey Jr. 
- Tony Gwynn 
- Josh Hamilton
- Derek Jeter 
- Mickey Mantle 
- Willie Mays 
- Cal Ripken Jr. 
- Alex Rodriguez 
- Pete Rose
- Babe Ruth 
- Honus Wagner 
- Ted Williams 
- David Wright
- Alex Gordon
- David Freese
- Our History on Slugger website, 3 Oct 2019
- John Hillerich IV takes over family’s bat company in Sports Business Journal article, 7 Aug, 2020
- Hillerich & Bradsby Co on Bloomberg.com
- "Bionic Gloves | Premium Golf and Fitness Gloves". www.bionicgloves.com. Retrieved 2020-08-07.
- Schneider, Grace (March 23, 2015). "Iconic bat maker Louisville Slugger sold". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Surowiecki, James (December 21, 2009). "The Tiger Woods scandal and celebrity endorsements". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- "Babe Ruth changed design of bats to thinner handle". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 11, 1979. p. C5.
- Bedingfield, Gary. "Baseball in World War II". Baseball in Wartime. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
- "Louisville Slugger® retires P72 bat model in honor of Derek Jeter".
- "Ian Kinsler Bat". August 14, 2018.
- "Hank Aaron's Bat | What Bat Does The Best Baseball Hitter Use?". October 20, 2016.
- "Wade Boggs' Bat". October 17, 2016.
- "George Brett's Bat | What Size Bat He Used & More | Just Bat Reviews". October 28, 2016.
- "Rod Carew's Bat". October 18, 2016.
- "Roberto Clemente's Bat". October 22, 2016.
- "Ty Cobb's Bat". October 11, 2016.
- "Lou Gehrig's Bat | Lighter As He Got Weaker? | Justbatreviews.com". September 26, 2016.
- "Ken Griffey Jr's Bat | Back to Back With Dad and His Nike Bat | JBR". September 30, 2016.
- "Tony Gwynn's Bat". October 19, 2016.
- "Derek Jeter's Bat | History the Bat behind Home Run #230". March 20, 2017.
- "Mickey Mantle's Bat | What Bat He Used for 500 Bombs | Just Bat Reviews". March 1, 2017.
- "Willie Mays' Bat | #600 A Grandslam? Curse You Hitler | Just Bat Reviews". December 15, 2016.
- "Cal Ripken's Bat | Slugger & Adirondack in 34 Ounces". 2017-04-07.
- "Alex Rodriguez's Bat | What He Used & A Walk off Salami". 2016-11-19.
- "Babe Ruth's Bat | A Walk Off To Remember | JustBatReviews.com". September 23, 2016.
- "Honus Wagner's Bat | Banging Walk-Offs in the 1800s". 2016-10-27.
- "Ted William's Bat | the Ultimate Walk off Bomb | Just Bat Reviews". 2016-10-12.
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