LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Baseball is known as America's pastime, a tradition as rich as the players who've graced the game. Aside from the players, a key instrument in the game that graces the hands of hitters is a legacy in its own right – and it is created in Louisville.
"We love that we're able to spread the name Louisville, Kentucky not only across America and North America but across the world," said Rick Redman.
Redman is the Vice President of corporate communications for Hillerich and Bradsby, the company that produces Louisville Slugger. He has his players in place to keep the Slugger brand on top.
As director of the wood bat division Bobby Hillerich acts as the cleanup hitter. He is the great grandson of the founding father of Louisville Slugger, Bud Hillerich.
He's the man when it comes to bat perfection, leading his club to New York and Pennsylvania each year to cut down 40,000 trees, then convert them to top of the line wood bats and sell to retailers, college clubs and Major League Baseball super stars.
"Joey Votto is really simple. He's an ash guy. He wants his grains six to 10 inches wide," Hillerich said. "Josh Hamilton, he's a no finish guy. He's all about maple. He swings a massive, massive bat, because he's a big guy."
The biggest contributor to Slugger's success is the wood bat, so when the company wasn't hitting they weren't winning.
Kyle Schlegeo, Slugger's Vice President of marketing said, "There are times in the past where our competitors have been making, frankly a better bat, and that was a huge wake up call for everyone here."
The last few years Slugger has been caught in a game of pickle with its 32 competitors. A recent change in management and a complete revamp of their marketing strategies led to a 10 percent increase in sales in 2013.
"Ultimately the thing we have to do is get the product into the hands of the influencer. Whether that's the MLB player on the wood bats side, top college programs, or top travel ball programs," he said.
While the brand is built on bats it's sustained by dozens of products, which includes everything from bats, gloves, protective gear, equipment bags, training aids and accessories and down to cell phone covers.
The sale of those products create millions of dollars in revenue, which benefits the city of Louisville.
Rick Redman, "We can never sit back and go ‘okay that's good enough let's take a day off and rest.'"
And they haven't. For 130 years Louisville Slugger is still swinging to stay on top.
Just in time for the holidays, Louisville Slugger has partnered with the Alumni Associations of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to offer one-of-a-kind personalized bats. Louisville Slugger has pledged to donate a significant portion of the sale proceeds to the Associations to use toward scholarships and other programs.More >>