After 71 years, Louisville Slugger finally made speical World Series bats for Chicago Cubs on Monday at their factory in downtown Louisville | Photo by Joe Sonka
After 71 years, Louisville Slugger finally made special World Series bats for the Chicago Cubs on Monday at its factory in downtown Louisville. | Photo by Joe Sonka

In 1945, Louisville Slugger crafted custom-made World Series bats for Chicago Cubs players in their showdown with the Detroit Tigers.

It’s been 71 years since that series, which included an unfortunate incident with a goat, and on Monday, Louisville Slugger workers once again cranked out a special batch of World Series bats for the Cubs, who clinched the National League championship and will face the Cleveland Indians this week with hopes of winning their first World Series in 108 years.

Engraved bats of Cubs stars Javier Baez and Addison Russell | Photo by Joe Sonka
Engraved bats of Cubs stars Javier Baez and Addison Russell | Photo by Joe Sonka

Rick Redman, the spokesman for Louisville Slugger, took reporters through the downtown factory to see the bats of six Cubs players being shaved, engraved and finished; those bats soon will be shipped to Cleveland for the first game of the World Series on Tuesday. Louisville Slugger has made World Series bats since the first one in 1903, but Redman called the making of bats for the Cubs “a historic day” for the company.

“It’s something that we get excited about every year, but to do World Series bats for the Chicago Cubs is even more exciting,” said Redman. “It’s almost beyond explanation of how exciting it is to be able to do this for the Chicago Cubs, because regardless of who you are, if you’re a baseball fan, everyone has been waiting for this season when the Chicago Cubs finally make the World Series for the first time since 1945.”

A dozen bats were made for six Cubs players: Jason Heyward, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. On Saturday, the factory made bats for eight Indians players, which then were specially delivered.

“Our pro bat rep actually picked them up and put them in the back of his SUV and drove them to Cleveland yesterday so that the Indians will have them for their workout and batting practice today,” said Redman. “So now we’ve got to get these Cubs bats finished and rushed up to Cleveland sometime tomorrow.”

World Series bats of Cubs players Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward waiting to receive a finish
World Series bats of Cubs players Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward waiting to receive a finish

Noting that the Cleveland Indians also have had their share of historic bad luck — not winning a World Series since 1948 — Redman added that “in any other year, the Cleveland Indians would be a huge story, but because it’s the Chicago Cubs, the Indians – unfortunately for them – are getting a little overshadowed. But for us, it’s great excitement.”

Each player receiving two special World Series bats likely will not need any more, Redman said, but in case a player gets their bat sawed off by vicious cutters, Cleveland and Chicago are close enough to Louisville for another emergency bat to be made and rushed north.

The World Series bats made over the past few days are game-ready and could make an appearance over the next week — unless the players current bats are to “hot” to switch out — but are special for each player, regardless.

“Players tell us all the time they know they’ve made it to the big leagues the first time they see their name on a Louisville Slugger,” said Redman. “They really know they’ve made it to the big time when they see their name on a Louisville Slugger with ‘World Series’ on it.”

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory at 800 W Main St. is still holding tours of the factory until 5 p.m. Monday, so if you’re willing to leave work early there may still be a chance to catch a glimpse of the Cubs’ bats before they are shipped off to Cleveland.

For the long-suffering Cubs fans out there, here are some videos of the Cubs’ World Series bats being made:

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]