The original "Louisville Slugger," with a career.343 batting average and three batting championships, was Pete-Louis Rodgers Browning, who was born on June 17, 1861, in Louisville. Playing primarily for the Louisville Colonels of the major league American Association, he led the league in hitting in both 1882, his rookie year, with a.382 average, and 1885, with.362. After he first used custom-made bats from Louisville woodworker John Hillerich, demand for these bats quickly spread and launched the Hillerich & Bradsby Company . The bats became known as Louisville Sluggers.
Originally an infielder, Browning converted to outfield and although he was a fast runner (103 steals in 1887), he played weak defense. After his worst season, 1889, he left the Colonels for the Cleveland Infants of the New Players League, where he won a third batting title with a.387 average in 1890. The league folded after a year and Browning finished his career splitting seasons with five other teams. He retired in 1894 with 299 doubles, 89 triples, 47 home runs, and 956 runs scored, and ranked tenth in all-time batting averages.
Browning died in Louisville on September 10, 1905, and was buried in the city's Cave Hill Cemetery.
Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Kleber, J. (2001). The encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
F459.L85 E54 2001, Young Library – Reference
Hill, B. (2000). Crack of the bat : The Louisville Slugger story. Champaign, Ill.: Sports Pub.
GV869 .H45 2000, Special Collections Research Center
Scheinin, R. (1994). Field of screams : The dark underside of America's national pastime. New York: Norton.
GV863.A1 S32 1994, Young Library – 4th Floor