WATCH: See how Louisville Slugger made their very first braille - WDRB 41 Louisville News

WATCH: See how Louisville Slugger made their very first braille bat

Posted: Updated:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Stevie Wonder performs Friday night at the KFC Yum! Center and he's receiving one of the city's most iconic gifts: a personalized Louisville Slugger bat. 

His bat is particularly special because it is engraved with braille. Thousands of specialized bats are made at the Louisville Slugger factory, but this latest project was a first. 

"We've made bats for Paul McCartney and Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, you name it we've made bats for big stars," said Slugger spokesperson Rick Redman. "So we were trying to figure out, what are we going to do with Stevie Wonder?"

"I was having a conversation with the folks at the KFC Yum Center in January and they threw out, can you make a braille bat?"  I thought, well, that's a great idea, I think we might be able to pull it off," said Redman. "We...have no idea how to create braille," said Redman.

Redman got in touch with his friends at the American Printing House for the Blind, which is also in Louisville.

"I felt like it was possible, but what I wanted to do was see their manufacturing processes and see how we might be able to tie in with that," said Frank Hayden, director of technical and manufacturing research division at the American Printing House for the Blind.

"They said that they could create a computer file for us that we can put in our laser engraving machine that would allow the laser to carve away all the wood except for what would be left in those braille dots that Stevie Wonder would be able to read," said Redman.

"Stevie Wonder will receive the world's very first braille baseball bat," he added.

It took a couple tries to get it just right. Gary Mudd, vice president of public affairs for the American Printing House for the Blind helped test out the braille. The first bat was made out of ash wood, which was not a good fit, in his opinion. 

"The grain was just a little too busy, noisy for the fingertip anyway. And then we talked about maple and it was a finer grain, that worked perfectly. It was just a good background for the dots."

Louisville has something special tied to Stevie Wonder. A piano he used to practice on is at the Printing House's museum in Louisville. 

"Stevie wonder learned with a lot of our materials back in the 60s when he was at the Michigan School for the Blind," said Mudd. "So many of our textbooks -- he used."

A replica bat is on display at the Slugger museum and they want you to touch it. The braille contains the same text as the printed inscription.
The orange and cream colors reflect the color of his album: Songs in the Key of Life.

KFC Yum! Center staff will present Stevie Wonder with his special slugger before the concert begins.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.