Thursday, July 20, 2017

Louisville Slugger and Ali

It was a short trip from Indy to Louisville where we toured the Louisville Slugger factory, the Muhammad Ali Center and did a bourbon tasting, so it was a full day.
The Hillerich and Bradsby Company has been making bats in Louisville since 1884. It started as a company that made stair railings, porch columns and butter churns. The first bats were sold under the name Falls City Slugger until 1894 when they patented the name Louisville Slugger. The 120 foot bat is a replica of Babe Ruth's bat. 
You have a chance to step up to the plate and swing the bat of your favorite player or team. I chose the bat model used by Pirate Jason Kendell. I think they need to update this exhibit since he played in Pittsburgh quite a few years ago.
The Bat Vault holds one of ever bat model they have made for Major League Baseball players. They do offer a vault tour, but only a limited number of tickets are available and it was very crowded the day we took the tour. 
The model bat used by Hank Aaron when he broke Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs. The display shows a note Aaron received threatening his life as he approached the record. Hammerin Hank finished his career with 755 homers.
Joltin Joe also used the Louisville Slugger bat when he set the record in 1941 of getting a hit in 56 games in a row. This record is one that many people feel will never be broken. 
A bat used by Babe Ruth in 1927 when he set the record of 60 home runs in a season. That season, Ruth put a notch around the logo for each homer he hit with each bat. This bat has 21 notches. That 60 homer record was broken in 1961 by Roger Maris who hit 61. 
Pirate Honus Wagner was the first player to officially endorse the Louisville Slugger when he signed a deal with the company in 1905.
Names of all the players who used the Louisville Slugger over the years are on a huge wall. These are a few Pirates we found on the wall. Most are from a long time ago, although we did find Josh Harrison who is a current player. The background is a ceiling "bat" mobile.
This display was about the discrimination faced by Black and Latino players getting into the majors. In 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first Black player and in 1949 Minnie Minoso became the first Latin player. Pirate Roberto Clemente came into the league in 1955 and played until 1972 when he died in a plane crash on a humanitarian mission. We are happy we got to see him play many time over the years.
They have a special exhibit for the rest of the year displaying three or four ball parks made out of Legos. This is the Brewers Miller Field.  There are also some pictures and sports figures  made with Legos. Very neat!
The main hall has statues of players through the years. At 3:00 each afternoon the staff comes out on the balcony and leads the crowd in the singing of, Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
John "Bud" Hillerich with the first bat they made in 1884 for Pete "Louisville Slugger" Browning who played for the major league Louisville Eclipse. Pete, who had been in a slump, got three hits in the first game with the new bat and the rest is history.  
No pictures are allowed during the tour. This display shows how they used to make bats one at a time on a lathe. Today they start with round billets that are all the same size and done in seconds on automated machines. Most of the bats are made from ash that is grown in woodlands on the Pennsylvania-New York border that is owned by the company. They do use other wood if a player wants a different kind. 
 I was able to get pictures through the window from outside. While much of the work is done by machines, we were surprised by how much is still done one bat at a time by hand. Each bat has the logo burned onto it one at a time. The bats hanging in the back are dipped by hand into the paint and varnish finish. After they are dry they are individually put in a plastic wrapper then into a shipping carton. 
If you have any interest in baseball at any level this tour needs to be on your to do list.
Just down the street from Louisville Slugger is the Muhammad Ali Center dedicated to the life of  the Louisville native. The center is guided by Ali's six principles; Confidence, Dedication, Giving, Respect, Spirituality and Conviction. On the fifth floor are exhibits that explore each principle and how they shaped Ali's life.
This exhibit is a walk through the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, Ali's conversion to Islam, his opposition to the Vietnam War and his refusal to be drafted because he was a conscientious objector.
Another section is all about his boxing career from the Olympics to Heavyweight Champion. You can spar in this ring, shadow box or watch each of his championship fights on demand.
Ali's gold medal he won in the 1960 Olympics. This is a replacement as the original was lost. When he came back to Louisville he wore the medal everywhere he went, but at some point it disappeared. Some say Ali threw it into the Ohio River because he was upset after being refused service in a segregated Louisville restaurant. Others say he either lost it or wore it out. In 1996 he was given this replacement metal.
Just a few of the many humanitarian awards Ali received over six decades of public service work around the world. 
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to Ali in 2005 by President Bush. The award honors not only his Olympic championship and being the only three time heavyweight champ, but also his commitment to equal justice and peace around the world.
This special, temporary exhibit honors those across many different sports and endeavors who have made a difference beyond their careers to, as the Clemente quote says, "make a difference in the world".
Don't miss the gallery with works by sports artist LeRoy Neiman. It features art that Neiman did during Ali's professional career including his most famous fights.  
Some other interesting works of art in the center. 
If you are in Louisville the Muhammad Ali Center is a very informative stop. It is not only an interesting look at the principles that led a great American through a difficult time in our history, for us it was a new look at what our country and its citizens were going through during our lifetime.
If we are in Kentucky and there is a place to do a bourbon tasting we aren't going to miss it. Evan Williams has a tour and tasting room downtown. We were to late for the tour, but did get to do a tasting and bought a bottle of single barrel.  This ended up being a very interesting day. 

We are still behind with the blog. We have since been to Nashville and are now in North Carolina near Lake Norman until the end of the month. Our next post will be our summary of ten years on the road. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Indy - Capitol, Library and 500 Museum

Because of the unknowns of having the slide repaired, we did not have reservations for over the Fourth of July, which can be a real problem for fulltimers. We wanted to spend a week in Indianapolis at the state fairgrounds. Turned out we could get in there for five days but had to leave on the fourth. That worked for us but changed our future plans. After leaving Indy we spent two days in Louisville and added a four day visit to Nashville.
The current capitol of Indiana, the second in Indianapolis, was built starting in 1880. It was completed in 1888 at a cost of nearly two million dollars. It was built with Indiana limestone, marble, bricks and mortar. It is one of only eight capitols where all three branches of the government are housed in one building. 
Exhibit about the only president from Indiana, Benjamin Harrison, who was the 23rd president serving from 1889 to 1892. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was from Ohio and was the 9th president. He died 31 days into his term. There is also an exhibit about the six Indianans who were vice-president including the current VP.
The stained glass dome is 72 feet in diameter and 105 feet above the floor. Above the stained glass is the large dome that you see on the outside. It is 235 feet high.
Around the rotunda just under the dome are eight statues representing the values that are considered positive attributes of civilization.
The building has the offices of the eight state executives; Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Clerk of Courts, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Legislative Services, Auditor, and Secretary of State, whose office we got to tour.
The House of Representatives chamber. There are 100 House members who serve two year terms. The chandelier in this chamber has 100 bulbs, one for each representative. It is an original and was quite impressive.
The mural in the House chamber was painted in 1963 by Eugene Savage. The center section represents statehood with the woman carrying a white rose and the governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison. The right side shows the business and industry of Indiana. The left side represents music, art and education. Under the mural is the State Seal. 
The Supreme Court chamber is the most unchanged from the 1888 original. The chamber is a cube with equally sized walls, floor and ceiling to represent equal justice. There are five justices on this court. 
The state library has been restored to its original appearance. 
How cool are these US Supreme Court justice's bobble heads. They come from a group called The Green Bag. I guess I'm a real geek to think something like this is so neat.
The interior of the capitol is Italian Renaissance Revival. In 1988 and 1989 an $11,000,000 renovation was done to restore the building to its original appearance. Here, on the fourth floor, all the original chandeliers that were designed for both gas and electricity were left in place. All the decorative painting, almost four acres, was done by local art students as their senior project. After graduating they formed a company that does historical restorations.
The Senate Chamber. There are 50 senators who serve four year terms. During the last renovation both the House and Senate Chambers were reduced in size to make room for offices for the legislature that are located behind the windows overlooking the chamber. 
The Indiana constitution.
The Oliver P. Morton statue honors Indiana's Civil War Governor and the Indiana soldiers who fought in the Grand Army of the Republic to save the Union and end slavery.  
We liked the National Road and the Washington statue as the road passes through our home town, Washington, PA.
This is our 31st capitol. It is different from others in many ways with the stained glass dome, the smaller legislative chambers and having all three branches of government in the same building. 
Across the street from the capitol is the state library, a beautiful Art Deco building that is worth a visit. In the main entrance these stained glass windows illustrate the changing ways information has been passed to the next generation. Ancient learning was first done orally. Then in the 13th century illuminated manuscripts were used. With the invention of the printing press in the 15th century books became widely available. The last window shows the picture writing of the American Indians.  
There are murals that follow the history of Indiana, from the Native Americans to....
defeating the British, to Indiana becoming a state.
Another room celebrates Indiana born authors. Among those is Jim Davis the creator of Garfield. 
This is one of 100 Bison art works that was done for the state's "Bison Tennial Art Project. It celebrates the state with drawings of the state flower, bird, tree, etc. It was painted by Troy Fiechter a Hoosier native who is a combat veteran. 
The Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Monument Circle started out originally to honor those Hoosiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War. As it was being built between 1888 and 1901, those who fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American and the Spanish-American Wars were added. It was the first monument to honor the common soldier in the country. You can go to the top of the monument, but it was closed when we were there.
For any race fan if you are in Indy a visit to Indianapolis Motor Raceway Hall of Fame is a must do. We have been to the time trials and the 500. We also went to the first Formula One race in 2000 and the Brickyard 400. We have not been to the museum since our first visit.
This is the 2016 winning car that was driven by Bryan Herta beside the first winner in 1911 driven by Ray Harroun. They sure have changed over the years. 
How about these two beautiful winners from 1950.
There is a huge exhibit dedicated to A.J. Foyt, the first four time winner of the 500. A.J. has been in the 500 an unbelievable 35 times and has 67 wins and seven Indy car series titles. 
He has also been a sprint car champion, and won the Daytona and Le Mans 24 hour races and the Daytona 500. No doubt, A.J. is one of the greatest drivers of all time.  This is a great tribute covering the life of a storied race car driver.  Visiting the raceway again really sparked an urge to make a plan to return to see another 500 race.  Something to add to our bucket list.  Love those Indy cars!