We learned how they make baseball bats today. The factory tours are time stamped, so we arrived about ten minutes before ours began. You first watch a video about how they choose the trees to make the bats, where they are located, and how they maintain the forest. It also demonstrates even after cutting down the tree, they may still not chose it for a bat. It was neat to see how they cut the billets out of the wood, which they then transfer to the factory.
The billets are sorted into the different trees: birch, ash, and maple. Each type of tree has its advantages and disadvantages for a batter. They have a wall of bins for a number of professional players with the billets of the tree they prefer as well as an example of the bat they prefer. There are quite a few baseball players that are very particular about the bat they use and check in with the factory with their orders. They usually order about. 120 bats a season and each is specially made for them.
We watched a machine cut a bat for the professional players and saw the autographs they put on one of the machines. It takes 45 seconds for the machine to complete one bat. The machine for the regular bats was not running, but it only takes 30 seconds. There is also a machine that sands that bats and takes a section out of the bottom to make it weigh less. (I didn’t realize that there is a hole in the bottom part of bats!)
The last part is the fancy part of the bat. They are dipped by hand for colors and for clear lacquer. They also put on the decals by hand because they have to be placed in exactly the right place so that the batter will line it up and hit the ball in the right spot of the bat. (I had no idea that was so important!). The professional players get their names and their teams name engraved on the bats. They then add paint by hand so the engraving will stand out. At the end of the tour you get your own mini bat. Ours were blue and commemorated the anniversary of the factory. You could also purchase a personalized bat in the gift shop. Youth bats were about $50 and regular bats were more depending on color.I bought my nephews a regular youth bat for $25. It was a fun tour and I love getting to see people working on things while you are on tour. It would be a shame to miss this tour if you visit Louisville.