Louisville Slugger shuts down factories with baseball in limbo

Louisville Slugger shuts down factories with baseball in limbo

Since there’s no baseball, there’s no need for bats, which is bad news for Hillerich & Bradsby, the company that has made Louisville Slugger bats for over a century.

They’ve close their factories and museums, which has led to the furloughing of “the vast majority of its workforce,” according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

In business since the late 1800s, Louisville Slugger signed its first player, Honus Wagner, to use its bats, but now has no revenue coming in because of coronavirus halting baseball.

“We’re not doing any advertising,” John Hillerich IV, the company’s CEO, told the Courier Journal. “We’ve cut all our expenses we can. We’re just hoping we get back to normal before we run out of cash.”

The company, which made bats for Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter, is still used by many current stars, including DJ LeMahieu.

Louisville Slugger baseball bats coronavirus furloughs
A worker dipping a baseball bat into finish at the Louisville Slugger factory in 2016.Picture Alliance via Getty Image

They produce roughly 50,000 wood bats a year for Major League Baseball. MLB suspended its season indefinitely last month during spring training, and while there has been some discussion about the possibility of the sport returning in some form over the summer — possibly with all teams located in Arizona for an abbreviated regular season — there’s no telling if that will actually happen.

In the meantime, Hillerich told the paper the company had applied for federal aid, but the federal payroll protection program had run out of money.

Adding to the company’s woes, some of the logs it has in inventory may spoil if they are not turned into bats soon.

Hillerich also noted, though, that the company had previously survived the Great Depression, Louisville’s great flood of 1937 and the 2008 recession.

“We’ve been very resilient,” Hillerich said.

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