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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 38.2549, -85.7664
A city like Louisville demands a visit when it is home to the self-proclaimed "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports", the self-proclaimed “Greatest” boxer in history, the self-proclaimed “Number 1 Finger Lickin' Good” fried chicken restaurant chain in the world, and the self-proclaimed “world famous” baseball bat maker. And while you might argue with the “greatest two minutes in sports” since it doesn't involve hockey, it would be difficult to dispute the others. First up for us was the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory.
Legend has it that the son of a local woodworking shop owner slipped away from work one afternoon in 1884 to watch Louisville's major league team, the Louisville Eclipse. The team's star, Pete "The Gladiator" Browning, mired in a hitting slump, broke his bat. The son invited Browning to his father's shop to hand-craft him a new bat to his own specifications. Browning accepted the offer, and, in his next game, got three hits to immediately break out of his slump with his new bat. Probably because the “Gladiator Slugger” sounded like an adult film star, the family wisely named their new product the Louisville Slugger” and the most famous bat in the world was born.
not sure that seeing the Biggest Bat in the World was high on DH's list but it was a significant step up on the Dukes of Hazzard Museum so she happily tagged along. The factory tour lets you get up close and personal with the bats of some of the truly great baseball players through history and it gives you a sense of what goes into the making of a bat. At the end of the tour you're even given a mini souvenir bat but this might be because we were on the last tour of the day and Louisville can get a little dicey when the sun goes down. We made it home without swinging our mini bats but we did stay within the safe zone as defined by our hotel receptionist.
The next day, DH was feeling good because she was going to be able to demonstrate some speed bag boxing skills that she picked up while she was in training to be a super cop. She's been close to showing me these skills many times in the past, but this time it would be legal with a regulation speed bag in the Mohammed Ali museum. A native
Louisville Slugger Walk Of Fame
Having metal belts spread all along the sidewalk is probably not a great idea in a city that can be a bit dicey at times.
of Louisville, Ali was the face of boxing for many years and one could argue (as he did) that he was the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. The museum isn't necessarily balanced but it does give a fabulous insight into a boxing icon. It was also the site of one of the slowest speed bag (sloth bag?) sessions I've ever seen but I'm sure that, with a little practice, she'd be the caged lightning Top Cop she used to be.
Having puffed herself up and now overflowing with adrenaline, DH challenged me to a horserace. This was particularly bizarre since she has a well known fear (she says respect) of horses but it turned out that her trash talking was all about getting us on some plastic horses at Churchill Downs (is trash talking allowed in the Sport of Kings?). Churchill Downs is the home of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown horse racing series. Unlike the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, which both took brief hiatuses, the Kentucky Derby has been run every consecutive year since 1875. The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other
Louisville Slugger Walk Of Fame
All the big hitters are represented.
stakes races including the Preakness, Belmont, and the Breeders' Cup. With that kind of history comes a ton of tradition including Mint Juleps (Kentucky bourbon, mint, and a sugar syrup), Burgoo (a thick stew), Millionaires Row, large and elaborate hats, and a lush blanket of 554 red roses which is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner. The deep dive into the Derby's history couldn't shake DH's focus on the plastic horse race and the trash talking took on a nasty tone as she brought up the many rides we had done recently where the horses seemed to struggle with my weight. I'll let the photo's do the talking but suffice to say that DH came in a distant 6th (and there were only 2 horses in the race?).
A quick photo op with Colonel Sanders (the Kentucky founder of KFC) and we were leaving Louisville.
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