History and Background of Louisville Slugger:
In 1842, J. Frederick Hillerich emigrated with his family from Baden-Baden, Germany to the United States. Eight years before, the 1834 Book of Sports had made its debut as the nation's first publication covering baseball. But when he arrived in Baltimore, J. Frederick Hillerich would never have dreamed of the future impact his family would have on America's favorite pastime. Here's a short video promo from Louisville Slugger.
After a short while, the Hillerichs moved to Louisville, where J. Fred started a woodworking shop in 1856. Two of his sons, Adam and John Andrew "Bud" were born in the United States and would later join their father in his business. By 1864 "J.F. Hillerich, Job Turning" was in operation and filled orders for businesses by custom-turning everything from balusters to bedposts.
The firm thrived, and by 1875 the little woodworking shop employed about 20 people. In 1880 Bud Hillerich, who was an amateur baseball player, became an apprentice in his father's shop. Young Bud made his own baseball bats along with bats for several of his teammates.
The debate over the origins of the first bat continues to generate controversy among baseball enthusiasts, but the younger Hillerich was most certainly involved in getting his father's business involved with what would become the company's signature item. According to company legend, the first bat was turned by Bud for Pete "The Old Gladiator" Browning in 1884. Browning was a star on Louisville's professional American Association team - the Eclipse. On a spring afternoon Bud, then seventeen, witnessed Browning break his favorite bat. Bud offered to make a bat for his hero, and Browning accepted. After the young wood shop apprentice lathed a quality stick from white ash, according to the story, Browning got three hits with it in the next game.