Louisville Slugger now Finnished

Pretty soon, some ballplayers will get their bats made by the country most synonymous with baseball – Finland. 

Finland-based Amer Sports, the parent company of Wilson Sporting Goods, bought the Louisville Slugger brand and intellectual property from Hillerich & Bradsby Co for $70 million in cash. Though I assume they probably did a wire transfer, no actual cash. Or some sort of oversized wooden check. 

Finland? That’s going to get confusing when a player asks for a bat with a black finish.

I love me some Louisville Slugger – I even have a personalized one that was a gift to commemorate the premiere of my show. So I was relieved to learn that the company is at least staying in Louisville for now. I’m sure Finland is a very beautiful place, but Helsinki Slugger just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 

Why was the 140-year-old company up for sale? Because of lawsuits, according to the CEO, John A. Hillerich IV (think he’s related?). Hillerich referred to a 2012 verdict where Slugger had to pay out part of $14.5 million when a 12-year-old suffered brain damage after being hit by a line drive off a Louisville Slugger bat. 

Meanwhile, Amer Sports could afford it because they made 114 million Euros in core operating profit – just last year. No wonder they had so much cash. Of course, that 114 million Euros could have bought way more bats last year. 

What will this mean for baseball? There won’t be much difference in the short term, but with all the money Amer Sports has to invest, perhaps there’ll be some interesting R&D. Or maybe they’ll just move a lot of the jobs overseas. Either way, we should expect eventual changes in a company that has pretty much never changed before. 

I’m just glad they didn’t sell to a Swedish company. I’d hate to have to put my own bat together.