Timeline

1842 – J. Michael Hillerich brings his family from Baden-Baden, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland. After a short time, the family moves to Louisville, Kentucky.

1859 – J. Fredrich Hillerich has his own business “running a cooperage” in Louisville. He had worked for his father as an apprentice before starting his own business. The name of the business was “J.F. Hillerich, Job Turning.” The two-story brick building was located at 22 Clay Street, near the Ohio River, in downtown Louisville.

1875 – J.F. Hillerich moves his business to First Street, between Main and Market Streets. There, he continued to craft roller skids, bed posts, tenpins, duckpins, wooden bowling balls, newel posts, handrails, and porch columns built for Louisville’s mansions of the era.

1880 – John A. “Bud” Hillerich, 14 years old, started learning his father’s trade as an apprentice in J.F. Hillerich’s woodworking shop.

1884 – Seventeen-year-old Bud Hillerich turns a wooden baseball bat for Pete “The Louisville Slugger” Browning, who played for the Louisville Eclipse Baseball Team of the American Association. This was the first bat the company made for a professional player, and the bats would eventually be branded with Browning’s nickname. 

1890 – Simmon’s Hardware Company of St. Louis signs an agreement with the Hillerichs to handle all bat sales, except those for professional baseball players and a few chosen outlets. The bat made by young Bud Hillerich six years before has now become known as the “Falls City Slugger,” named for the Falls of the Ohio River – a stretch of rapids on the Ohio at Louisville.

1894 – “Louisville Slugger” is registered with the United States Government as an official trademark for the bats made by the Hillerich family.

1897 – The name of the firm is changed to “J.F. Hillerich & Son,” reflecting Bud’s growing involvement in the business.

1901 – Because of expanded growth, new manufacturing quarters had to be found, so the company moved its operations to Preston Street, between Finzer and Jacob Streets in Louisville.

1905 – On September 1, 1905, Honus Wagner, “The Flying Dutchman,” signed a contract giving J.F. Hillerich & Son permission to use his autograph on Louisville Slugger bats. Not only was Wagner the first of thousands of baseball stars to sign a contract with the Hillerichs, he was also the first known professional athlete to endorse an athletic product.

 

1908 – Ty Cobb signs a contract with J.F. Hillerich & Son for autographed Louisville Slugger bats.

1910 – A disastrous fire severely damages the bat factory. Rebuilding soon begins.

1911 – While rebuilding from the fire is in progress, the Hillerichs ask Frank W. Bradsby, a young buyer from Simmon’s Hardware, to join the company. He assumes responsibility for the firm’s sales policies.

1911 – The company name is lengthened slightly as it becomes “J.F. Hillerich & Son Co.” This same year they end their relationship with Simmon’s Hardware for the handling of bat sales.

1916 – The name of the company makes the last change in its history to become “Hillerich & Bradsby  Company” (H&B).

1916 – Hillerich & Bradsby Co. manufactures the first golf club in its history.  

1924 – A slip on an icy street leads to the death of J. F. Hillerich, company founder.

1925 – Because of the increasing popularity of its new golf club, the company purchases a large warehouse on Finzer and Jackson Streets from the American Tobacco Company. This building houses new golf club manufacturing. The company also moves its offices into this new location.

1933 – The first use of the name “PowerBilt” on golf clubs made by H&B.

1937 – The catastrophic Ohio River flood of 1937 hits H&B hard. The offices and parts of the factory are damaged. Although the material loss is of small consequence, the tremendous strain and hard work brought on by the flood contribute to the death of Frank Bradsby.

1941-45 – H&B aids in the war production effort with the manufacturing of bats, M1 carbine gunstocks and tank pins for the United States Armed Forces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1946 – At the age of 80, John A. “Bud” Hillerich, the man who made the company’s first baseball bat, dies en route to the Annual Baseball Meetings. He is succeeded as President by his son, Ward A. Hillerich.

1949 – Ward Hillerich dies and is succeeded by his brother, John A. Hillerich, Jr. (“Junie”).

 

1966 – H&B Purchases Wally Enterprises in Wallaceburg, Ontario. This marks the firm’s entrance into the ice hockey stick business.

1968 - Hillerich & Bradsby Co. moves its corporate offices to the Portland Federal Building in downtown Louisville.



1969 – With the death of John A. Hillerich, Jr., his son, John A. Hillerich, III, assumes leadership of the company.

1970 – H&B contracts Alcoa Aluminum Company to manufacture the first aluminum bat for Louisville Slugger.

1973 – Because of inadequate production and warehousing facilities, H&B purchases a building in Jeffersonville, Indiana and moves the golf production to “Slugger Park.”

1974 – Louisville Slugger bat production moves to Slugger Park in Southern Indiana, while the corporate offices remain in Louisville.

1975 – H&B enters the glove and mitt business with its first Louisville Slugger line of baseball and softball gloves.

1984 – H&B celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

1991 – Because of the tremendous growth of its aluminum bat sales, Louisville Slugger moves its aluminum bat production into new and larger facilities in Ontario, California. During the same year, a smaller aluminum bat and aluminum hockey stick manufacturing facility was opened in Florence, Kentucky.

1995 – H&B moves the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat in front of the new headquarters and museum, still under construction on Main Street, in downtown Louisville.

 

1996 – H&B moves to new corporate complex with company offices for PowerBilt Golf, Louisville Hockey, the bat factory, and Louisville Slugger Museum in downtown Louisville, just a few blocks from J.F. Hillerich’s 1875 location.


2000 – Hillerich & Bradsby Co. entered into a technology venture with a local hand surgeon to create and market Bionic Gloves for a variety of activities including baseball, golf, hockey, gardening, and more.  

2001 – Louisville Slugger Museum rewards its 1,000,000th visitor with a prize package that includes an all-expense trip for two to the third game of the World Series.

2001 – John A Hillerich IV steps to the plate as President and CEO of Hillerich & Bradsby Co. He succeeds his father, John A. “Jack” Hillerich III who remains as chairman of the board.

2004 – The first Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory auction is held, an annual event that now takes place every November. 

2006 – Celebrating its tenth year, Louisville Slugger Museum changes its name to Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory to better reflect the overall experience offered at the attraction, which features factory tours and interactive exhibits. 

2006 – For the first time, Louisville Slugger teams up with Major League Baseball to produce pink bats for professional players to use on Mother’s Day, raising money for breast cancer research and inspiring an annual tradition.

 

2006 - The Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame is introduced on the sidewalks of downtown Louisville. It honors some of the greatest hitters and players in baseball and fast pitch softball history who were under contract with Louisville Slugger. Bronze bats and plates containing information about each player were cast by Louisville artist Wyatt Gragg.



2007
– Ken Griffey Jr. is the first recipient of the annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Living Legend Award. 


2009 – As part of Louisville Slugger’s 125th Anniversary celebration, a major renovation of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is unveiled. 

2011 – Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory welcomes its 3-millionth guest during its 15th Anniversary and sets an annual attendance record with more than 238,000 guests.