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Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Louisville Slugger factory — the oldest bat manufacturer in the world — has temporarily closed due to COVID-19, with 90% of its staff being furloughed and all remaining employees taking a 25% pay cut.

By the numbers: The factory produces 1.8 million wood bats annually, with pros ordering between 100–120 each season. According to the company, 80% of all batters in the Hall of Fame were under contract with Louisville Slugger.

The origin story: In 1884, 17-year-old Bud Hillerich took a day off work from his father's wood shop to catch a Louisville Eclipse game — the city's major league team.

  • Their star player, Pete Browning, broke his bat in anger amid a slump, so Hillerich asked if he could make a new one to whatever specifications Browning wanted.
  • In his first game with the new bat, Browning knocked three hits and was hooked for life. Browning's nickname? The Louisville Slugger.

The big picture: For decades, just about everyone used Louisville Sluggers. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, to name a select and elite few.

  • But these days, though some stars still use them, Louisville Sluggers are hardly the only quality choice.
  • In fact, Louisville Slugger (13.67%) was just the third-most popular bat brand among MLB starters last season, behind Marucci (23.83%) and Victus (18.36%).

The state of play: New contenders often enter an established space to shake things up, and Marucci Sports — which owns both the Marucci and Victus brands — is no different.

  • In 2017, Marucci recognized Victus as a challenger and acquired the upstart brand. Then yesterday, it was announced that Marucci has been acquired for $200 million by a private equity firm.

The bottom line: Louisville Slugger is still the official bat of Major League Baseball, but unlike all uniforms being made by Nike, or all balls being made by Rawlings (which, by the way, MLB owns), players can choose their bat-maker.

  • In the past, that competition played right into Louisville Slugger's hands. But they no longer stand alone at the top of the bat-making industry, and the 135-year-old company now faces its biggest challenge yet.

Go deeper: Baseball's uncertain future

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.