On the Road: Day Four of the Promo Seminar in Louisville

The above title is a bit of misnomer, as the Promo Seminar is only three days long  and was over by the time that everything in this post took place.

But! I was still in Louisville for the bulk of this particular day, and I did some things and saw some things and now I’m going to write all about it. I just don’t know what else to do.

Friday, September 27

After a semi-productive morning of writing, I checked out of Louisville’s Galt House Hotel amid a scene of controlled chaos. While the Minor League Baseball Promo Seminar had been a fairly large event, it had nothing on the H20-XPO taking place that weekend and the lobby was absolutely packed with water industry merchants, policy makers, activists, and hangers-on. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that aquamarine mob scene, but wasn’t scheduled to leave Louisville for another couple of hours. So, I commenced to walking.

The Galt House Hotel is on 4th Street, and as part of a downtown revitalization effort a nearby stretch of this street has been closed to traffic and transformed into a retail/dining/nightlife complex called “Fourth Street Live!” It’s good for what it is (an accessible downtown gathering spot), but there’s no getting around the fact that its loud and tacky, with a disproportionate amount of square footage given over to national chains.


Spending time on Fourth Street Live, while convenient for those situated downtown, leaves the visitor with little to no sense of what it is that might make Louisville unique. Therefore, I was glad to get a little time to walk around and take note of that which existed beyond the penned-in parameters of Fourth Street Live.

Before becoming the proud home of entities such as TGI Fridays, Hard Rock Cafe, and Howl at the Moon piano bar, Fourth Street was the site of Civil Rights sit-in protests.


Click HERE to check out a photo gallery of the sit-ins and protests that took place in and around Louisville’s Fourth Street. Captivating stuff.

Just a few minutes later I came across this little monument to monk/poet/activist Thomas Merton, who became a monk at the nearby Abbey of Gethsemani (his famous autobiography Seven Storey Mountain was written there, among many other works).


Even better is the back of the plaque, which says that on this very corner Merton had the sudden realization that he “loved all these people.”


Seeing this plaque got me to thinking about how we, as a society, don’t do enough to honor and promote the work of men and women of peace. While attending the Promo Seminar I heard a lot of great ideas about military-themed promotions and events, and I’m generally all for these types of endeavors as they represent a great chance to honor the sacrifices made by those in the community who have served overseas. But there is too much of a disparity at play, this willingness to almost indiscriminately label anyone remotely connected with the military as a “hero” while rarely if ever extending the same level of consideration to those who dedicate their lives to issues revolving around peace and social justice.

And, of course, even typing the above paragraph made me think about how I haven’t done nearly enough work on these fronts and am, at present, an ineffectual and self-centered urbanite whose college-era idealism has withered into a general “eh, I’m just trying to get by in NYC” sort of malaise. This is unacceptable, but also unacceptable is the continuation of this tangent, because, look, I had a baseball bat museum to visit.

And on the way to this baseball bat museum I saw another really interesting plaque!


Thornton Blackburn’s Wikipedia page is short, but absolutely fascinating. Please enjoy this brief excerpt, as I am laboring under the delusion that everyone is interested in what I am interested in:

[The Blackburn’s] had been settled in Detroit, Michigan, for two years when, in 1833, Kentucky slave hunters located, re-captured, and arrested the couple. The Blackburns were jailed but allowed visitors, which provided the opportunity for Lucie to exchange her clothes—and her incarceration—with a Mrs. George French. Lucie was then spirited across the Detroit River to safety in Amherstburg, in Essex CountyUpper Canada (U.C.).

Thornton’s escape was more difficult as he was heavily guarded, bound and shackled. The day before Thornton was to be returned to Kentucky, Detroit’s African American community rose up in protest. A crowd of some 400 men stormed the jail to free him.

Anyhow, I was indeed headed to a baseball bat museum or, to put it more specifically, the Louisville Slugger Museum. Along the way, one passes a variety of commemorative plaques which immortalize the Louisville Sluggers used by famous players. This was a Jeff Bagwell edition.


Along the way to the museum, there were many sights to be seen.  Sights such as humorous Army-Navy Store signage.


Not to mention a 30-foot tall gold replica of Michelangelo’s David.


Finally, there was this photo op in front of the Louisville Science Center.


Eventually, my destination was reached.


There were no photos allowed during the factory tour, under penalty of death, but it was enjoyable to be walked through the bat making process.  Afterwards I wandered about the museum portion, pausing briefly to take this subpar photo.

071 After pondering this issue for a spell, I voted with the majority.


Ted loved his Louisville Slugger.


So did the Babe.


After visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum my hope had been to swing by Zooperstars! headquarters, but time was a bit too tight so I simply walked around for a bit on East Market Street. Before skimming through the record selection at Please and Thank You coffee shop, I stopped by Muth’s Candies and scored some primo peanut brittle.


Kentucky Fried Chicken is headquartered in Louisville, but I don’t think this graffiti was approved by corporate.


And then there’s this:


One final thing about KFC is that Louisville is home to the thus far only location of the more upscale (but still very casual) “KFC Eleven.

And with that random fact, I am officially out of Louisville-based content. I flew back to New York City that evening, thus ending what I truly believe was a successful jaunt to Kentucky. I just wish that said jaunt could have lasted a bit longer, because then I could have attended the Cropped Out Festival. Blues Control and Endless Boogie on the same night would have been awesome!

Meanwhile, I consider this blog to be its own sort of endless boogie. Post #988 is now in the bag.




  1. Stev Lewis

    Wow, we had to read Thomas Merton poetry in high school. I always thought he was from England. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I have at times wondered if any ball games could be played without a moment of silence or tribute to some tragic event.
    And on another note – can’t wait to get the results of the Bobble head Awards!

  2. Minor League Mascots Blog

    Ben, please tell me you went into the Bat vault. I was there on Septmeber 9th on a road trip back to Florida and finally stopped by the Museum. The highlight was going into the vault and seeing all the different styles of bats.

  3. Sean

    Hey Ben, any non-bat related art there at the Slugger museum? Hmm…
    Safe to predict there will be no “A Revelation” monument in front of the KFC “Yum! Center”, ever?

    • BensBiz

      A true lover of humanity can find beauty even in front of the Yum! Center, unfortunately I am not that person. I didn’t see any non-bat related art at the museum — I sense an opening!

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