Take me out the ballgame, take me out to the crowd - you know the rest.
Summer means baseball! I don't have to remind you that I am a major baseball fan.
I admit I am not picky about the baseball games that I watch (of course, I could have lived without seeing Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte get hurt in a game and be placed on the 60-day DL recently). I love to watch the major leaguers, the up-and-coming players of AA and AAA ball, and especially the Little League teams.
So when I was invited to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, Ky., recently, I jumped at the chance to see how the famous baseball bats were made and to take in exhibits highlighting baseball history.
The factory tour shows visitors how the bats are produced using tried-and-true production methods and even some hand-made processes.
Tour groups are guided through the working factory with a host who shares fun, little-known facts about the game.
The tour is enhanced by videos documenting the factory's history.
Most of the bats are produced using state-of-the-art computer-aided automatic lathes, which carve pieces of ash wood from the forests of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
The original company, Hillerich & Bradsby, started out making bed posts and butter churns in the late 1890s.
In the early 20th century, the company owner's son suggested that the company move into the production of baseball bats and the rest, as they say, is history.
to baseball bats
Today, Louisville Slugger is synonymous with some of major league baseball's star batters.
In fact, 80 percent of hitters in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., were under contract with Hillerich & Bradsby for their bats, including home-run kings and record-breaking hitters like Ozzie Smith, Leo Durocher, Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson, Robin Yount, Cal Ripken Jr., Johnny Bench and the list goes on.
Today's major league players like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Evan Longoria order their bats from the famed Louisville factory and most select black as the color of choice for their custom-made equipment.
After the factory tour, where the tour guide gave everyone a free miniature Louisville Slugger bat (gotta love freebies!), I toured the museum, which had interesting and interactive displays about famous players, teams and the role that the famous bats played in more than a century of American history.
I was impressed by the interesting displays, lifelike wax figures of some baseball legends and the vast array of diverse information.
I even played catcher to a video of Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels throwing a 90 mph fastball and I marveled at the baseball collectibles that dated back to the early days of the game.
I looked for information about my favorite teams (the Yankees and the Phillies - the two teams my Dad played for) and got to hold a bat used by Stan Musial, too.
As a former museum director, I am always interested to see how museums stay current as they highlight history within their exhibition spaces.
It is a tall order to offer something for everyone, but in Louisville, they did a good job at making the information fun and accessible.
I asked executive director Anne Jewell about the Louisville Slugger museum's Hot Topics display, which poses a question to the public about a recent event in baseball and then tallies the responses from museum visitors.
Jewell said, "We added the Hot Topics exhibit a few years ago when we renovated because even though the history and legacy of our Louisville Slugger brand is an important part of our identity, we feel it's important to highlight how we are involved and interested in what's happening today."
The Louisville Slugger experience is one that chronicles American history as well as baseball history.
The factory and museum highlight the changes in American manufacturing, technology, and of course, sports. It is a museum that is completely appropriate for all ages.
And, the giant baseball bat - a landmark for the museum and the city of Louisville - makes for a memorable family photo op, too.
Verderame will offer antique appraisals at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at Bowman Field.
Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery Channel's "Auction Kings," which airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays.
Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. As seen on NBC's "The Tonight Show," Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and Lifetime Television, Dr. Lori offers information about your antiques at www.DrLoriV.com, www.facebook.com/DoctorLori or call 888-431-1010.