Update at 7:21 p.m. ET. Jobs to be lost in
Baseball’s most iconic bat has a new owner. Today, Hillerich
& Bradsby, Co., which owns Louisville Slugger, announced
the brand would be acquired by Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for
$70 million in cash. The move means that Wilson, maker of Major
League Baseball’s official glove, will soon own the maker of
MLB’s official bat.
Jacob Ryan of NPR
member station WFPL reports that some jobs will be lost in
“With the deal, 52 Hillerich and Bradsby Co. employees will
be laid off, mostly from positions such as accounting and
information technology, the companies’ representatives
said. Some other positions will move to operate under
Wilson. Currently, H&B has about 270 employees.”
elaborated on the terms of the deal in a statement:
H&B will become Wilson’s exclusive manufacturing
partner for wood bats. H&B will manufacture all
Louisville Slugger-branded MLB, Minor League Baseball,
amateur player and souvenir wood bats for Wilson. H&B
will continue to manufacture wood bats at the Company’s
downtown Louisville factory.
H&B will also maintain ownership and continue to
operate the highly successful Louisville Slugger Museum
& Factory and Gift Shop, a cornerstone of the city’s
tourism business. H&B’s Bionic Gloves division and
Powerbilt golf brand are not part of the agreement with
In a that same statement, John A. Hillerich IV, CEO of
Hillerich and Bradsby said, “The decision to sell the
Louisville Slugger brand was a difficult and serious one to
make. The Hillerich family, and those closest to the brand,
firmly believes that a new business model is necessary to
realize the enormous potential of this brand in the future.” He
continued, “We recognized from our first conversation with
Wilson that they would be a great partner and steward of the
brand our family created and so many have nurtured for 131
The Louisville Slugger brand was founded in 1884. The company website
says Bud Hillerich made the first Louisville Slugger bat
after seeing Pete Browning, star of the Louisville Eclipse,
break his bat during a game. According to the brand, Browning
got three hits with the new bat the next day.
For decades, Louisville Slugger bats were widely popular, used
by players such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Lou Gehrig.
Louisville Slugger says their bats are still used by 60% of
Major League Baseball players.
The Wall Street Journal reports the company made $75
million last year.
ESPN reports that the company has suffered recently.
Phillip Shirley, co-author of a book on the history of the
Louisville Slugger told ESPN, “The rise of softball created a
new opportunity for competitors and as everything went from
wood to metal from the Little League to the college level, it
was an entirely different product that Louisville Slugger
wasn’t ready for.” [Louisville Slugger now makes wood and metal
bats.] ESPN also says a number of lawsuits against Louisville
Slugger lawsuits due to bat injuries “played a small part” in
The sale of Louisville Slugger to Wilson adds to the clout of
an already dominant company. Wilson produces supplies for
tennis, baseball, football, golf, basketball, softball,
badminton and squash. Wilson also makes the official football
of the NFL.