He received $100 and a set of golf clubs made by the company. In return for Babe Ruth’s signature 100 years ago Monday, Hillerich & Bradsby received the endorsement of baseball’s most exciting new player. One of the bats made for him during his long association with the company goes on display at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Monday—but you can do more than just look at it.
You can hold it, too.
“We’ve been dreaming of the day when we could place a Babe Ruth bat in the hands of our guests, and we’re so excited that day has arrived,” said Anne Jewell, Vice President and Executive Director. “We believe he’d be happy to know one of his bats is still delighting baseball fans at our factory a century after he signed with us,” she added.
As part of Monday’s Ruth celebration, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will give away gold-colored mini-bats featuring Babe Ruth’s signature to the first 714 ticketed guests; a nod to the Babe’s career home run total. Ruth’s contract will also be on display and Babe Ruth trivia contests will be held throughout the day.
Ruth’s contract is the only one signed with Hillerich & Bradsby Co. that gives the batmaker the right to reproduce a player’s bats forever. All other H&B bat contracts expire after a set amount of time.
The Bat’s History
The bat was wielded by the Bambino sometime during the 1933 – 1934 seasons and was given to semi-professional baseball player Frederick Dugger when Ruth was finished with it. According to the Letter of Authenticity from Hunt Auctions, the bat was specially ordered by Ruth and later modified for training purposes. It exhibits heavy use and traits of other bats Ruth used, such as handle scoring, stitching impressions and grain swelling.
The ash Louisville Slugger bat is 35 3/4 inches long and weighs 42.6 ounces. The training modifications include a barrel that was partially hollowed out, filled with lead, and sealed with cork. This was a popular method of training for players during Ruth’s era, as it was the only way to practice with a weighted bat.
Sold for more than $150,000 last fall in the annual auction at the museum, the bat is the latest addition to the Hold a Piece of History experience that was created nearly 10 years ago. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory was the first attraction to allow guest to regularly hold valuable game-used bats from past and present stars. Ruth’s bat is the 17th added to the collection this year and is the 40th in the exhibit overall. Bats from Hank Aaron and Cal Ripken Jr. and current stars Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa are some of the 2018 additions. Overall, Hold a Piece of History will now include bats swung by 20 Hall-of-Famers and 12 current All-Stars.
The 100th anniversary of Ruth’s contract is just one centennial the museum is celebrating this year. Along with Ruth, the Heavy Hitters 100th exhibition also includes memorabilia from Ted Williams and Pee Wee Reese. Among the artifacts guests can see for a limited time in the museum are Williams’ Silver Bat and Triple Crown Awards and a rare experimental Reese game-worn jersey.
The Museum & Factory is hosting an online contest for a Babe Ruth prize package. Three winners will be selected from the followers of the company’s official social media accounts – one each from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To enter, fans are asked to post a photo or video reenacting The Babe’s famous “Called Shot” from the 1932 World Series. The entry must tag Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and also include #BabeRuth100.
The prize packages will include a full-sized souvenir Babe Ruth bat with career stats, a golden mini-bat with Babe’s signature commemorating the 100th anniversary, and 4 museum passes. The social media contest is active now through Monday, July 16.