To get to the cages, you’ll pass the world’s largest baseball bat—a towering 120-foot piece that leans against the front of the building. Inside, a wall of more than 8,000 wood-etched signatures reminds you how many of baseball’s greats have relied on Louisville Slugger bats to do their jobs.
A red-brick lobby funnels visitors to the museum’s exhibits, tour ticket window, theater and gift shop (admission is $12 for adults, $7 for kids ages 6 to 12). Pass the ticket counter and follow the hallway towards the back: here you’ll find a table-sized glove that usually has kids climbing on it and Bud’s Batting Cage (named for Bud Hillerich, maker of the first Louisville Slugger bat).
Stop at the ticket window to the right of the batting entrance to buy tokens (each $1 token gets you 10 swings) and choose your bats. You can swing the newest Sluggers, but for a deeper sense of the sport’s history, opt for the replica bats from superstars throughout the ages: Babe Ruth (1914–1935), Hank Aaron (1954–1976) and Derek Jeter (1995–present).
The half-hour factory tour is fascinating for even the most casual baseball fan. You’ll get a keepsake mini bat at the end of the tour, which are now on the TSA’s approved carry-on items list (no more airport confiscations).
Pick up each bat and see how they differ: Ruth’s 35 ounce mass feels like a Neolithic bludgeon after you’ve held Jeter’s shorter, sleeker black 32 ounce lumber.
Step into the cage to take your swings. You’ll have an audience, but don’t get nervous. It’s just the line of people waiting their turn in the cages; most are more interested in what batters’ bats their friends decided to use.
Swing Jeter’s bat first and Ruth’s and Aaron’s will feel like you’re dragging your arms through thick water; start with the older bats and end with Jeter’s and you’ll quickly see why modern ballers take practice swings with multiple bats at once.
Since you get 10 pitches per token, it’s easy to figure out your batting average. Compare your hit percentage to the player whose bat you’re using. (Just ignore the fact that you’re swinging at balls going only 50 mph and there’s no one to field the ball...) Did you hit 4 balls? Congrats, you hit better than Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.
Jess Moss is senior editor at MapQuest. After trying her hand as a batter in the Louisville Slugger cages, she’s decided to stick with her career as a travel writer and editor.
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