Where the bats never stop swinging

Writer Clayton Collins spent a day in Louisville, Ky.

Where did you go? Louisville, Ky., where baseball's best-known bat rolls off the line - 1,500 of them a day in peak periods.

What did you do? Drove through genteel Old Louisville, with its Victorian mansions, then parked near Main St. and 8th St. at the Louisville Slugger Museum ($8 for adults, $4 for children). The factory tour lets you handle "billets" of Northern white ash (maple is used, too, and European beech was tested this year) and watch the lathes convert them to their familiar shape. Anecdotes fly like fastballs. (Yogi Berra was so obstinate about turning his bats' trademarks toward pitchers that his Sluggers - rather than being marked on the barrel's weak point as determined by grain - had to be branded on the opposite side.) You can hold bats made to the specifications of such Major League hitters as David Ortiz and Albert Pujols. From behind plexiglass, you can see what it's like to stand in against a 95-m.p.h. pitch.

Is that the only game in town? Hardly. There's also the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, the Speed Art Museum, the Frazier Historical Arms Museum (see George Washington's rifle), and the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Where did you eat? The sparking, revitalized Fourth St. district was tempting, but I opted for a Nathan's street-cart hot dog - extending the ballpark feel.

Where have you been? What did you do? E-mail us at: Weekend

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