Make it to the World Series as a player these days and you're guaranteed a year-end bonus, win or lose, in the neighborhood of a quarter million dollars. You'll also get, shipped up from the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory, a batch of custom-made game-ready baseball bats, with "2009 WORLD SERIES" seared into the barrel right under your name. "Except the relief pitchers," says
The factory and museum occupy a red brick building on the corner of Eighth and Main in that old Kentucky city, and if you're any kind of baseball fan you'll get the chills just walking into the place. You can see
The Angels impertinent seventh-inning rally in Game 5 did more than just extend the ALCS and give the Yankees some additional home-game revenue (sigh, the rich get richer), it also got the major league bat-makers in Louisville working double last Friday. What with the World Series fast approaching and rain potentially extending the ALCS even further, and also the facts that bat making never happens on a Sunday and that the lacquer finish needs two full days to dry, a decision was made at the factory: Go ahead and create World Series bats for all the non-relief pitchers on both the Yankees AND the Angels. The bats of the team that didn't survive the ALCS would be destroyed. Probably.
"That's the idea," Cohen said. "To just get rid of them. Although sometimes things go out the back door and turn up in the real world." That's what happened in the case of the so-called World Series phantom bats made for the Orioles in '73. Despite the fact that the O's lost to the A's in the ALCS,
Making bats for two teams instead of one isn't much of a hardship for a guy like the factory's
Talk of Bonds naturally leads to thoughts of
On Friday A-Rod's World Series bats were just about done. His batting practice clubs go 34 inches and 34 ounces with a clear, ballplayer's dip (that means the lacquer goes about 2/3 of the way down from the top of the barrel). A-Rod's black game bats are 34 inches, 32 ounces, a C271 with a
These days, a major league hitter might go through 120 bats a season, which explains why Napier turns those 350 a day. In 1930 the Tigers'
Some big leaguers still have a hankering for the old days. A few years back then-Astro
Someone in the 2009 World Series will likely hit a home run with a piece of carefully turned, meticulously sanded wood that a year ago was living on the 8,000 acres of woodland that Louisville Slugger owns in Pennsylvania and New York. Babe Ruth held a Louisville Slugger when he called his Game 3 shot in Wrigley Field in 1932.