Amazing athletes and inspiring heroes like Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter and many others have made incredible contributions to baseball and our society. Black ballplayers also played a tremendous role in building Louisville Slugger into an iconic brand. H&B is grateful to the thousands of Black ballplayers we’ve worked with for generations who have been vital to our business, and we’re proud to honor them every day with guest experiences like these:
Our lifelike sculptures salute some of baseball’s best, including Jackie Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr, and Derek Jeter.
H&B took the pioneering step of signing Jackie Robinson to a bat contract in October of 1946, six months before he broke baseball’s color barrier in April of 1947. Superstar Ken Griffey Jr. swung by the museum in 2007 as the very first recipient of our Living Legend Award. And Derek Jeter never wielded any other bat besides his P72 Louisville Slugger model during his storied career; to show our appreciation this was the first model number we ever retired, renaming the P72 the DJ2 in Jeter’s honor.
Swatting Down Racist Threats
Hank Aaron used this bat to hit his 700th home run, as he pursued and eventually set a new record for career home runs with 755. We display this monumental artifact with a specific death threat he received as he worked toward breaking the record set by Babe Ruth. The threats did not slow him down, Hammerin’ Hank kept swinging in the face of racism and we’re honored that he presented us with this very special bat after he was done with it.
Hold a Piece of History
Can you imagine holding the very same bats that were swung by Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Ken Griffey Jr.? No need to dream about it, you can do it here! These are genuine artifacts, real pieces of history. And, yes, you can hold these bats that were actually used by the greatest players in the game like Ernie Banks, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter and many more past and present heroes.
Black Baseball Before the Negro Leagues
Expand your exploration of Black ballplayers with the exciting rediscovery of a local pre-Negro Leagues team: the Louisville Unions. They were one of the best teams in the South but forgotten until recently. With some sleuthing we uncovered the story of these Black ballplayers who helped pave the way for the Negro Leagues that followed.
Walk of Fame
In 2006 we created the Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame on Main Street to honor the diverse array of great hitters who have swung Louisville Slugger bats made by H&B. The Walk of Fame features Negro League stars Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell and Oscar Charlestown, along with other Negro Leaguers who went on to play in Major League Baseball, like Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. Black baseball players enshrined on our Walk of Fame also include Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan, and Dave Winfield. Click here to see the complete list Walk of Fame honorees and map.