From Sonja Carberry at Investor’s Business Daily on May 15, 2013, with mention of SABR member John McMurray:
Bud Hillerich got his business start playing hooky.
He was supposed to be at his father’s wood shop, carving bedposts and bowling pins.
Instead, the 17-year-old Kentuckian was cheering on his hometown Louisville Eclipse baseball team.
Back in the 1880s, only layabouts whiled away weekday afternoons at the ballpark.
The pastime was not yet considered as American as apple pie.
Hillerich — the man who would found Louisville Slugger — might even have been called a slacker.
But he simply loved the sport; he’d played until a shoulder injury put him on the disabled list.
Sitting in the stands that day in 1884, Hillerich hit on a business idea. The Eclipse’s star hitter, Pete “The Old Gladiator” Browning, had swung with such vengeance, his bat shattered.
After the game, according to company lore, Hillerich stepped up to the plate and offered to make his idol a new one — to Browning’s specifications.
The next day, wielding Hillerich’s lathe-turned white ash stick, Browning connected solidly for three hits.
Originally published: May 15, 2013. Last Updated: May 15, 2013.