While many iconic American brands are suffering (Ford) or being sold (Anheuser-Busch), Louisville Slugger is still going strong. This year, the bat maker is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Even more unusual, it's still owned by the Hillerich family after five generations. (Supposedly, less than 1 percent of family businesses make it past the fourth generation.)
More than 8,500 players have inked contracts with the company over the years. The first was Pete "The Gladiator" Browning. John A. "Bud" Hillerich, then just 17 years old, was at a Louisville Eclipse baseball game when a slumping Browning broke his bat. The young fan invited the ballplayer to his dad's woodworking shop to advise on the creation of a new bat. To date, the company has made more than 100 million bats.
—Posted by Kenneth Hein