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Louisville Slugger to reopen factory, museum

Iconic baseball bat brand Louisville Slugger, which last month furloughed nearly its entire staff and closed its Kentucky-based factory and museum, has resumed operations after securing an undisclosed amount of federal relief.

The brand, operated by Hillerich & Bradsby Co. and owned by Wilson, received support from a second round of the US federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The program, which has supplied more than $500bn in loans to American small businesses, is the same one that the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers tried to tap into before receiving public blowback.

Thanks to securing that funding, Louisville Slugger will be bringing back 171 employees that had been furloughed.

“We’re pleased to be in a position to bring our employees off furlough and provide work for them. We’ve asked them to have patience and understanding as the company continues to assess the phases of reopening and projections for our business going forward,” said company spokesman Rick Redman.

Louisville Slugger will have a mix of employees working from home and others returning to its factory and museum in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, as that state like others in the US has begun to relax various shelter-at-home provisions. The museum is slated to reopen May 20. Factory operations will resume with distanced work stations, twice-per-day temperature checks, and other safety protocols.

The 165-year-old bat maker is just one of many companies in the sporting goods, footwear, and apparel industries who have taken a sizable hit due to the sharply slowed economy. The company produces about 2m wood bats per year out of its Louisville, Kentucky, plant, with about 50,000 of those going to Major League Baseball. A wide array of MLB stars, both past and present, have relied on Louisville Slugger bats over the years.