The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 31, 2013

A baseball icon goes for a fresh image

(Continued)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

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.

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