The world’s largest … what?
By Kathleen Landis
America knows how to do it up big, and “big” takes on new meaning when it comes to this quirky quintet of record-setting objects. They always cause people to do double-takes, and then pull out their cameras. But if you want to get the whole object in the picture, you’ve got to take a few steps back for the wide view.
Bigger is Batter
World’s largest bat
Headquarters /Museum & Factory
800 West Main St.
Legendary home run-hitter Babe Ruth regularly swung a 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat manufactured by the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. in Louisville, Ky. The baseball bat manufacturer also hit one out of the ballpark in 1995 when it erected a 34-ton, 120-foot-tall exact-scale replica of Ruth’s preferred bat next to Louisville Slugger headquarters and Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, in downtown Louisville.
The bat is affectionately known as the “Big Bat.” The knob of the hollow, carbon steel landmark, manufactured by Caldwell Tanks, handily tops the five-story brick building where, from a distance, it seems to lean against the structure. Five layers of paint cover and seal the bat, including a hand-painted wood-grain coat.
It took two tractor-trailers to move the ample art piece the 12 miles from its manufacturing site to its permanent location. In baseball terms, if filled to capacity the 30,000-gallon Big Bat would hold 360,000 baseballs — enough to supply more than two seasons of major league baseball games.
Best Boot Forward
World’s largest leather boot
Red Wing Shoe Company and Museum
315 Main St.
Red Wing, Minn.
Red Wing Shoe Company’s Model #877 boot stepped on to the scene in 1953. While millions have worn these yellow-laced, triple-stitched “Oro-iginal” leather work boots, one boot remains unfilled. A one-ton-plus, 16-foot tall, size 638 1/2 D, full-grain leather, exact replica of Model #877 was introduced during the company’s centennial.
Red Wing employees at the original Red Wing Shoe Factory used the same design and materials as the iconic original, and walked the Big Boot into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005.
A fascinating video about the construction of the Big Boot can be found on the city’s official website, www.redwing.org.
For its journey to the company’s flagship Red Wing Shoe Company store and museum in downtown Red Wing, Minn., the behemoth boot was scaled to the width of a trailer with a custom carriage that comes apart in three pieces. To ease its installation, the boot was constructed with an interior rigging system and a top hinge that allows it to fold from 16 to eight feet. It took 20 volunteers to push the folded boot into the store.
World’s largest working yo-yo
National Yo-Yo Museum
320 Broadway St.
No need to go around the world. Chico, Calif., is home to the National Yo-Yo Museum, which has the country’s largest public display of yo-yos and yo-yo memorabilia. In addition to offering Saturday yo-yo lessons, the Museum sponsors the National Yo-Yo contest, which draws 100 contestants and a thousand spectators.
The show-stopper of the place, though, is Big-Yo, deemed by Guinness as the world’s largest working wood yo-yo. It weighs in at 256 pounds, and is a scaled-up version of a the company’s popular No Jive 3-in-1 yo-yo, invented by Tom Kuhn.
Kuhn decided one day in the late 1970s that making a super-sized version of the yo-yo would be fun, and enlisted some friends who had a woodworking shop. It took them a month to create Big-Yo.
On two occasions, onlookers have witnessed Big-Yo in action. It made its debut at San Francisco’s pier 39 in 1979. Twenty-five years later, a crane operator managed to get at least 10 returns from the gigantic toy launching it from a 120-foot tall crane. That’s no small feat considering the wooden whopper is 50 inches in diameter and 31.5 inches wide, on a 5.5-foot axle.
World’s largest chess piece
World Chess Hall of Fame
2657 Maryland Ave.
St. Louis, Mo.
It could break one’s concentration — and strain some muscles — to attempt a game of chess using the world’s largest chess piece, a 14-foot-six-inch tall King, modeled on the Championship Staunton design. The stately piece, made of 3/4-inch exterior-grade plywood, weighs in at more than a ton and is 45 times larger than a standard chess piece. Match play using the record-breaking royal would require a 72-foot-square chess board made of nine-foot squares.
The Guinness Book of Records-holder is jointly owned by the St. Louis, Missouri-based Chess Club and Scholastic Center, and the World Chess Hall of Fame, where it stands permanently out front. It was unveiled May 7, 2012, to kick off the 2012 U.S. Women’s Chess Championships.
Dreams of Steel
World’s Largest Wagon
Radio Flyer Inc.
6515 West Grand Ave.
The original Little Red Wagon™ from Radio Flyer Inc. has been in continuous production for more than 70 years. Generations of youngsters have hauled newspapers, transported stuffed animals or toted little brothers around in this classic childhood accessory.
An eye-popping jumbo replica, deemed the World’s Largest Wagon, looms large in front of Radio Flyer Inc.’s Chicago headquarters. Six tons of steel went into constructing the 27-foot long by 13-foot wide wagon that’s nine times the size of its namesake and can hold 120 of the original Model #18s.
The wheels measure 8 feet in diameter and weigh 1,000 pounds each. Its rubber tires were hand-shaped and cured directly on the wheels. Even the Little Red Wagon’s distinctive finish was replicated, with 100 gallons of Radio Flyer’s signature, and secret-formula, red paint.