Coronavirus forces Louisville Slugger to shut down baseball bat production

The baseball bat maker has furloughed 171 employees, the majority of its overall workforce.

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Louisville Slugger, one of Major League Baseball’s most prominent makers of baseball bats, has shut down its factory and furloughed employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a top executive at its parent company.

Hillerich & Bradsby, the longtime owner of the Louisville Slugger brand, operates a museum covering its historical role in the sport as well as the facilities that produce thousands of bats per season for MLB teams. Neither aspect of the business is earning money because of the pandemic, which forced the museum to shut down and an indefinite delay to the 2020 MLB season.

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“We’re not doing any advertising. We’ve cut all our expenses we can. We’re just hoping we get back to normal before we run out of cash,” John Hillerich IV, Hillerich & Bradsby CEO, told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Louisville, Kentucky, USA - June 5 2016 - Hillerich & Bradsby Company Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in downtown Louisville Kentucky.

The baseball bat maker has furloughed 171 employees, the majority of its workforce. The furloughed workers still have access to health care benefits but won’t be paid. Employees who continue to work, including top executives, are taking 25 percent pay cuts.

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So far, Hillerich & Bradsby’s attempts to receive federal aid have been unsuccessful.

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 23: 2015 World Series bats of the New York Mets lay on a rack ready to be shipped out at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory on October 23, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Louisville Slugger is among the most popular bat brands among MLB players. About 13 percent of players were using Louisville Slugger bats last season, according to Bat Digest, which conducted a review last October.

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The Louisville Slugger brand has been active since the late 1800s. Countless baseball legends, including New York Yankees sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, were known to use its bats.

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