Tag Archives: mlb

Just Because: What is A Louisville Slugger Anyway?

From trees to tees

By Brody Beaupre

Louisville Slugger. Even if you don’t know the bat, you’ve probably heard the name or seen the iconic logo. For those who don’t know, Louisville Slugger is a brand of baseball bat. This legendary brand got its start around 1880 when a man named Andrew “Bud” Hillerich apprenticed at his father’s woodworking business and learned the tricks of the trade. Hillerich grew up playing baseball and rather than go and buy bats, he would simply make them instead. He did this for some of his teammates as well.

Company legend says that in 1884 Hillerich’s bat made it to the major leagues. Pete Browning, nicknamed “The Louisville Slugger”, is credited with being the first person to use one of Hillerich’s bats in Major League Baseball. By 1894 “Louisville Slugger” was a patented business and producing big league bats. These bats changed the game forever.

Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner, esteemed shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, became the first MLB player to sign a contract for a bat. Wagner also started the now common trend of having the players’ signature inscribed onto the bat.

The bats start as a tree then through the factory gets shaved down and shaped into the bats you see in the other photos

With the endorsement of two major league sluggers “Louisville Slugger” was taking off. The only issue was the company was run by woodworkers not salesmen/managers. That’s where Frank Bradsby came in to really launch Louisville Slugger. With a quick rebranding the company “Hillerich & Bradsby Co.” was born and to this day continues to produce the same quality Louisville Slugger bats.

My Experience

This past 2023 spring break I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the factory and see some of the work that goes into making a bat. There was so much to learn as a ballplayer and so many amazing insights and hands-on portions for everyone.

I have been playing baseball for most of my life, and as an avid user of Louisville Slugger bats, it was truly a wonderful experience. Being someone with aspirations to make it to the Major League level, seeing all the bats from billet (the raw uncut wood) to something some of my favorite players have seen and used in game was so motivating. It makes me want to have my name on a bat that some kid picks up and goes “Oh wow! This is so cool!” Experiencing the factory from a fan view really makes me want to be on the player end more so than I already did. It’s the experiences like the ones that I had which is what makes the Louisville Slugger factory such a spectacular place.

There is just so much history I couldn’t cover it all in one story, but I highly recommend if ever given the opportunity, to go and see it all firsthand.

MLB Opening Day is Finally Here!

By Tori Kitchens

Major League Baseball (MLB) is back! Today marks Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season.

The 2022 season ended with an American League (AL) victory in the World Series for the Houston Astros over the National League’s (NL) Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros won in six games, ending the Phillies’ impressive postseason run in Houston.

Last year’s regular season ended with the New York Yankees winning the AL East, the Cleveland Guardians winning the AL Central, the Astros winning the AL West, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets tying for the win of the NL East, the St. Louis Cardinals winning the NL Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the AL West.

ESPN writers, analysts, and editors made their predictions of the season outcome. They predicted that the regular season winners from the AL will be the same, and the Astros will become the AL champions.

The NL, on the other hand, having undergone many changes to their ball clubs, have very different outcome positions. The Braves were chosen to win the NL East significantly over the Mets, the Cardinals are predicted to win the NL Central, and the San Diego Padres were predicted to edge out the Dodgers in the NL West. The Padres were also chosen to edge out the Braves in the NL championship.

The ESPN voters were in favor of an NL team becoming the 2023 World Series champions but were split between the Braves and the Padres. The Braves have 2022 NL Rookie of the Year finalist Spencer Strider (pitcher) and the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II (outfield) to continue their impressive starts in the majors. The Padres organization is one with a lot of talent with five strong batters to leadoff their order. Fernando Tatis, Jr. will make his return in late April following injuries from last season and a suspension on account of performance enhancing drugs.

MLB play may look a little different this year as rule changes will be implemented. Infield shifts are prohibited, a new pitch clock is enforced, pitchers are only allowed to make two pickoff attempts per batter, and the size of bases are increased from 15 to 18 inches to reduce injuries. We have seen previews of some of these changes in spring training games and are being introduced in college ball as well.

Many transactions occurred during the offseason with the most dramatic being shortstop Carlos Correa. This infielder’s name was brought up multiple times during the offseason as he opted out of his contract with the Minnesota Twins. Correa was set to sign with the San Francisco Giants, but, due to concerns of a weak ankle, the baseball club was timid to let him sign on the dotted line, which would grant him a 13-year, $350 million deal. In the middle of the night on December 21, Correa agreed to a 12-year, $315 million contract with the Mets, which stood as a major threat in the NL East. More concerns arose in the Mets ball club surrounding Correa’s ankle, so he returned to the Twins where he signed a six-year $200 million contract.

Braves fans, like myself, were heartbroken following the loss of former first baseman Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers following the World Series win in 2021. The Braves organization and fans took another hard hit as hometown hero Dansby Swanson’s contract expired. Swanson is one of the league’s most dynamic players and shortstops. On Dec. 17, he announced he would join his new wife, professional soccer player Mallory [Pugh] Swanson, in Chicago and sign a 7-year, $177 million contract with the Cubs organization.

Two more notable transactions included former Dodgers infielder Justin Turner and former Mets ace pitcher Jacob deGrom. Turner will return to AL competition as he suits up for the Boston Red Sox. He will face his former team, the Baltimore Orioles, during opening weekend. DeGrom will make his Texas Rangers and American League (AL) debut as the ace pitcher against the Phillies.

Season Opening Series:
Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants @ New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles @ Boston Red Sox
Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers @ Tampa Bay Rays
Philadelphia Phillies @ Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies @ San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays @ St. Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins @ Kansas City Royals
New York Mets @ Miami Marlins
Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros
Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Cleveland Guardians @ Seattle Mariners

If the MLB Playoffs Started Today

By Brody Beaupre

When most people think about October one word comes to mind: Halloween. Unless, of course, your favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) team is in the playoffs. October was not only made for ghosts and ghouls, but for homeruns and high scoring games. In the 2022 postseason, there are bound to be many great matchups and upsets.

The Good, the Bad, and the Angels

This season has been full of some very high highs, and some very (very) low lows. There are many examples of this throughout the baseball season, but my personal favorites are the Angels and the Braves. First the good, a.k.a. the Braves. The Atlanta Braves went on one of the hottest winning streaks in baseball this year. The team won 14 straight games. This streak, which started June 1 and ended June 15, was one of the main reasons the Braves are in the playoffs. For a large part of the season, the Braves have been two to four games behind the New York Mets for the Divisional Series spot but were able to make a good run for the Wild Card spots. The younger team led by head coach Brian Snitker has a very solid chance at the NLCS, if not the World Series. Now for the not so good, a.k.a. the Angels. The Los Angeles Angels went on one of the worst losing streaks in the MLB this year. A straight 14 games without a win. This is oddly ironic, because two of the biggest names in baseball are on the Angels. This would be Mike Trout (#27) and Shohei Ohtani (#17). Mike Trout has been on the cover of many MLB video games, and Ohtani was recently the cover of “MLB The Show ‘22”. Unfortunately, the superstars could not save the team from a very low spot in the rankings. 

If the postseason started today:

Brody’s Official First Round Predictions:

All of the teams in the playoffs this year have the ability to beat their opponent but there can only be one winner. 

Seattle Mariners @ Cleveland Guardians – Seattle
Seattle has not seen the playoffs since 2001 and now that they have a shot, I believe that they will claw and fight for the series win.

Tampa Bay Rays @ Toronto Blue Jays – Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay is starting to spread its wings as an organization. They have good pitching and some quality hitters, whereas Toronto is lacking in the quality pitching department.

Philadelphia Phillies @ St. Louis Cardinals – St. Louis
If I pick Philadelphia, there’s a high chance Ms. Alvarez will fail me (kidding…kind of). St. Louis has star catcher Yadier Molina and designated hitter Albert Pujols, both of whom are retiring after this season. They will have extra incentive to go all the way as one final hurrah.   

San Diego Padres @ Atlanta Braves – Atlanta
Atlanta is coming off a World Series win in 2021 so the extra motivation is there for the Braves to go back-to-back.