Here's How The Louisville Slugger Got Its Name

When you hear the word slugger, you're likely thinking of baseball (or even softball). So obviously, the Louisville Slugger is a reference to a baseball great hailing from the state of Kentucky. That legend was Pete Browning — a professional baseball player who was shining on the diamond field in the late 19th century.

Born Louis Rogers Browning on June 17, 1861 in Louisville, Kentucky, Browning was the last of eight children by his parents, Samuel and Mary Jane. He started playing the game of baseball at a young age and by the time he was a teenager, he was a minor league baseball player. Immediately, his talents on the field were recognized. Browning became known for his right hand, and was also quickly noted for his slugging skills. His big break would come in 1882 when he officially joined the big leagues. When the Major League Baseball (MLB) signed him on that year, he played for his hometown team — Louisville Eclipse (via Baseball Almanac).

His sports career would be nothing short of decorated. Browning earned himself three batting titles as athlete (per Baseball Past and Present), and the Hall of Famer is known as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

How the Slugger got its name

In his career, Browning (above) played for six MLB teams, but it was his time on the Eclipse that solidified one of the nicknames he would earn. He was often called Gladiator (via MLB), but his other moniker, "The Louisville Slugger," is what history remembers him by.

According to Slugger Museum, it was 1884 and the standout player happened to break his bat during a game. In the crowd was bat-maker Bud Hillerich. Hillerich, a baseball fanatic and the son of a German woodworker, witnessed the bat-shatter moment. Impressed, he offered to make Browning a custom bat specifically for him, something that could withstand the Slugger's batting style.

And make it he did. Browning played with one of the first Hillerich-made bats and made three hits at his next game. This particular style of bat would take the name of the man who inspired it, and was also nicknamed "The Louisville Slugger." As a result, a new brand was created and new type of baseball bat was on the market.

Like many great stories — even sports stories — there is some debate today as to whether that particular account is true, per Society for American Baseball Research. Nevertheless, without Browning's notoriety there would probably be no line of Louisville Slugger bats.