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Despite World Series, It’s Just Another Week at Slugger Plant

October 18, 1996

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Stanley Russell was rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League championship series Wednesday night.

Russell, a worker at the Louisville Slugger plant for 36 years, isn’t a Cardinals’ fan; he said he doesn’t really have a favorite team.

But Atlanta’s 3-1 win that extended the series to a seventh game Thursday night gave the Louisville batmakers twice as much work to do Thursday morning.

Each World Series participant will receive four bats _ three for use and one as a souvenir _ when the series begins Saturday in New York. The bats aren’t any different from regular bats, but have ``1996 World Series″ carved in gold lettering into the barrel underneath each player’s signature.

The bats for the New York Yankees are finished and ready for shipment. But instead of starting on the Cardinals’ bats Thursday, Russell had to dig out the bat specification cards for Atlanta’s players and get to work on the Braves’ bats too.

With good reason. Atlanta won Game 7 15-0 Thursday night.

The Atlanta bats were to be branded today with the players’ signatures and the World Series label; the St. Louis bats will be shipped to the team’s spring training site next season.

``It would’ve been a lot easier if we only had to make St. Louis’ bats,″ said Russell, whose father worked for the plant for 34 years. ``The Braves’ bats are more difficult. Some guys want certain finishes, others want different weights. St. Louis’ bats aren’t so picky.″

The only other difference, plant worker Danny Luckett said, is a little extra care.

``We maybe take an extra minute than we usually would to find a better grade of timber,″ said Luckett, a batmaker for 27 years. ``We really try to take pride in every bat we make. They’re all made the same way, but since it’s the World Series, maybe we try to find an extra-special piece of wood.″

Luckett doesn’t have a favorite team either, but said he watches baseball for personal gratification.

``I don’t have any special feelings about (the World Series), but I kind of feel good when I see a bat I made in some player’s hands on TV,″ he said.

He does have one recent World Series memory. Luckett was watching Game 6 of the 1993 World Series between Toronto and Philadelphia _ the game Joe Carter won with a ninth-inning home run. He fell asleep before Toronto won its second straight world championship. But the next day, the plant was buzzing with talk of the three-run blast _ cracked with a Louisville Slugger.

``That made us all feel really good,″ Luckett said.

Russell said the week of the World Series marks a special time of year for the workers at the plant.

``It’s kind of the end of our season, too,″ Russell said. ``And making the bats for the series is kind of a happy ending. It’s very fulfilling.″