LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- I took my first baseball road trip in 2003, when I was 11 years old. My family and I traveled from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Chicago, to experience Wrigley Field.

The first stop on that trip was the Louisville Slugger Bat Museum.

Eleven years later, not much has changed. After traveling six hours, and finally arriving in Louisville on Thursday night, I visited the Louisville Slugger Bat Museum on Friday morning.

Kroll: Major leaguers remember their #RoadToOmaha
Higgins: Omaha's Diner exemplifies city's small-town feel
Hill: Eight teams make the trek to Omaha to make their mark
Hill: Friends make living in sports memorabilia
Higgins: Omaha's vibrance goes beyond stadium
Kroll: ULL fans and the best seat on the house
Vander Voort: A visit to historic Monticello
Kroll: The ragin' beards of the Ragin’ Cajuns
Higgins: CWS fever in full swing in Austin
Prezioso: Fans visit Vandy parking deck to get unique view
Hill: Wagner's Pharmacy is 'where champions gather'
Vander Voort: Meet Maryland's head 'Turtle'
Kroll: ULL fans thrilled to reprsent state at Supers
Higgins: Baseball's smallest fans take in Austin
Prezioso: Nerd Nation rises up for Stanford
Hill: Roads to Omaha, triple crown both start in Louisville
Vander Voort: UVa. fans' mad dash to create their own row
Kroll: Ole Miss has come oh so close to CWS recently
Higgins: Cougar country comes north to Austin
Prezioso: Stanford-Vandy -- fans' battle of the brains
Hill: Batter up! First stop is the Slugger museum
Higgins: Sweating the details began in September
See more in the Coke Zero Social Arena
Abby Hill Louisville, Ky.
Andrew Prezioso Nashville, Tenn.
Doug Kroll Lafayette, La.
Eric Vander Voort Charlottesville, Va.
Sarah Higgins Austin, Texas
Not much has changed at the bat museum in 11 years either. Honestly, not much has changed with the bat factory since its conception in 1894. This company which produces 1.8 million bats per year, still does things the old fashioned way.

Yes, new machines have been introduced to help with the efficiency, but one would be amazed to see how hands-on each worker is in the factory.

For example, each bat is branded with the Louisville Slugger seal by hand. Yes, by hand! Following the branding, each bat is dipped in the player-preferred finish, by hand, and then checked, and left to dry.

This business located in our country's heartland is the No. 1 bat producer in Major League Baseball and, from the looks of it, about 90 percent of its work is done by hand.

While on the tour, I was able to watch Atlanta Braves outfielder B.J. Upton's bats being made. Each big-league player is made anywhere from 80-120 bats per season. The bats are made in groups of 20, because players in The Show like being able to change the style, shape, ect., of the bat when things are not going correctly.

Yes, because the bat is the reason they're in that slump ...

Whether the bat is or isn't the reason for great hitting, during my visit I was again reminded of one of the reasons I love baseball: To this day, I am blown away that big-league players can even hit the ball.

At Louisville Slugger, there is a batting simulator. You can stand at the plate, and watch an MLB player throw at you and see, feel how fast the ball comes on you. ... On Friday morning, Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels threw me an 90 mph fastball that I didn't even see coming.

What's the hardest job in sports? Guarding LeBron James? Taking a hit from Jadeveon Clowney? Teeing off at Augusta National?

To me, it's standing in that batter's box and having to decided what to do when that ball gets close.

I think I would be using that Louisville Slugger for protection.