The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

April 1, 2013

Louisville Slugger rolls out new logo, harder bats

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The familiar smell of hot dogs and freshly cut grass on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day will be complemented by changes to the iconic Louisville Slugger bat, which is now made with firmer wood and stamped with a new logo.

The 129-year-old manufacturer hopes the harder bat, which is less likely to splinter, and more modern logo will help the family-owned company stay relevant in the sporting good supply market and ahead of competitors in luring younger ballplayers to its products.

The new logo is the first such change since the company dropped the “Hillerich & Bradsby” name from the center of its oval design and replaced it with “Louisville Slugger” in 1980. And the new bats, which are made from a high-grade wood and processed to enhance the surface’s hardness, are the biggest change in the hardware since the introduction of cup-ended bats in 1972.

“You have to ask yourself, Do you really need to change it?” Louisville Slugger CEO John Hillerich said of the logos and bats. “Our greatest asset is our brand.”

The changes were the result of a multi-year process that involved talking with everyone from corporate partners to players about what they wanted in a bat to how the new logo looked on the equipment.

The new bats — made of ash or maple — are designed to be harder than previous models. Bobby Hillerich, director of Wood Bat Manufacturing for Louisville Slugger, said new selection processes for the wood, as well as drying and processing methods, have created a bat hard enough to reach a grade of 9h — the highest rating possible by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Buyers search for the hardest wood available — known as veneer wood — which is vacuum dried to pull moisture out of the wood and push the material closer together, Bobby Hillerich said. Once that is done, the wood is cut into billets used to create the bats. The billets are shaped and compressed before being finished with a water-based coating, logo, and any coloring and player signature.

Part of the aim of the new bat is to keep it from splintering on the field. In recent years, baseball officials have been concerned about maple bats breaking or shattering, creating potential hazards for infielders. Bobby Hillerich said the new bats have held up well in tests.

“The crack of the bat is just so much different because of the drying process,” Hillerich said.

Howard Smith, Vice President of Licensing for Major League Baseball, said players tested the new bats toward the end of the 2012 season and gave it “rave reviews.” Louisville Slugger has refined bat-making to a science, Smith said.

“In terms of the slope of the grain, which determines how hard the wood will be, Louisville has been able to harvest the best wood with the most perfect as you can get slope of grain,” Smith said. “It has absolutely contributed to less bats breaking on the field.”

With the new bats comes a new look. The old Louisville Slugger logo — an oval featuring the company name at the center with the number “125” above it — is being replaced by a new logo that keeps the oval, but slightly alters the look of the Louisville Slugger name and has an interlocking “LS” above it. The bats, marketed as MLB Prime, will also feature a player’s signature boxed in by the Louisville Slugger name, the model number, a notation that the bat is genuine and the wood from which it is made.

Older bats featured the model number and the Louisville Slugger name in parallel lines around a player’s signature.

“We saw the brand in need of a small bit of an infusion of modernity,” said Kyle Schlegel, vice president of Global Marketing for Hillerich & Bradsby.

“Changing such an iconic logo can come with risks, particularly if the alterations are dramatic enough to cause customers to not recognize the brand identity,” said Michael Barone, a professor of marketing at the University of Louisville. Other long-standing brands, such as Ivory, Betty Crocker and Harley-Davidson, have successfully made small logo changes over the years, Barone said.

“When you’ve been in the market that long, consumers may start to think you are not as contemporary or relevant as you really are,” Barone said. “A logo could signal something new. It helps get attention back to a mature brand.”

The company is rolling out the new logo with a “What Mark Will You Leave?” campaign on its website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

To John Hillerich, the logo change and launch on Opening Day fits well with the future he sees for the company, a path that takes it into deeper ties with baseball. Along with bats, the new logo will appear on equipment bags, catcher equipment and gloves.

Eventually, the logo could appear on apparel and other items, possibly even pop-up stores or restaurants, Hillerich said.

“Could you take that on the road?” he asked. “Those decisions are five to 10 years out, depending on how you grow the company.”

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • FEA - HB0121 - flu - 05 Second wave of milder flu hitting Northeast

    Months ago, the flu season seemed to be winding down. But health officials on Friday reported widespread flu-like illnesses in six states.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0525 - marijuana - JM -pic (4).jpg Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Ferry captain arrested in South Korea disaster

    A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton visit.jpg Documents: Clinton sought GOP support for health care

    Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton's White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Student struggles to recount fatal truck-bus crash

    Most of the 911 calls from witnesses to last week's fiery truck-bus collision that killed 10 were matter of fact. Then there was the one from a passenger: With shrieks in the background, the student struggled to recount how a truck came roaring toward them.

    April 18, 2014

  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

     A powerful, magnitude-7.5 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_horselesscarriage.jpg Proposed car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

    An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, as critics expressed their distaste for the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_homesickforprison.jpg Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3½ years

    An ex-con who spent most of his adult life behind bars on Thursday got what he said he wanted for robbing a suburban Chicago bank. The 74-year-old gets to go back to the place he called home — prison.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Utah [Duplicate] Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium