Per Darren Heitner’s article on Forbes, Wilson Sporting Goods is acquiring the intellectual property of Louisville Slugger from its original owner Hillerich & Bradsby, for a cost of $70 million.
This acquisition combines two of the biggest brands in baseball into one company. For more than 100 years, Louisville Slugger was the go-to bat for baseball players of all ages with its name on the bats of more than 18,000 Major Leaguers. In the last 15 years, Louisville Slugger has encountered significant competition from Mariucci and DeMarini, which has tripled in size after being acquired by Wilson parent company, Amer Sports (Finland) in 2000.
John A. Hillerich IV, CEO of H&B, said the goal was to keep the business independently in the family, but things had changed as the company faced the “challenges of global business climate.” He admitted in a news conference that some of the lawsuits due to injuries resulting from metal bats “played a small part” in encouraging him to sell the company.
In 2012, Louisville Slugger, a New Jersey Sports Authority, and the New Jersey State Little League agreed to pay $9 million to the family of a boy who suffered brain damage after a line drive that came off a Louisville Slugger bat him in the chest.
Louisville Slugger bats, currently the official bat of the MLB, will continue to be made in Louisville, but exclusively for Wilson. MLB players are allowed to use or endorse any approved brand, but Wilson is the official fielding glove and catchers’ protective gear.
There are a number of players who currently endorse both Louisville Slugger bats and Wilson gloves, including Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, and David Wright of the New York Mets.