It’s a big night in baseball. Postseason positioning is going on in the American League, there’s a tight race for the NL Central crown, and, oh yeah, Derek Jeter’s playing his last game at Yankee Stadium. (That is, if it doesn’t get washed out — it’s currently raining cats and dogs in NYC.)
Jeter will still have three games left on the schedule — in Boston, at Fenway, naturally — but he when he takes his last at bat he won’t be the only one leaving the game.
His bat is retiring, too.
For all of his 20-year Major League career, Jeter has used the Louisville Slugger P72 bat. The bat maker created the P72 for Leslie Wayne Pinkham in 1954. Pinkham was a career minor leaguer who played from 1950-1954. When Louisville Slugger made his bat, they named it the P72 because his Pinkham’s last name started with the letter P and he was the 72nd pro that had a bat made by Louisville Slugger.
Pinkham never made it to the bigs. But his bat sure did. It was one of Slugger’s more popular models, used by a ton of big-time names, like Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount, Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Ivan Rodriguez. Jeter used a 34-inch, 32-ounce version of the P72 for the majority of his career. (He also used a 33.5-inch. 31-ounce model.) And in recognition of Jeter’s career, Louisville Slugger is retiring the P72 — something it has never done for any other bat.
“The reason I use that bat is because when I signed, it was shaped like my aluminum bat that I used in high school,” Jeter told the New York Post. “And my entire career I’ve never swung another bat. It just felt right.’’
The P72 served Jeter well. Through yesterday’s games, the Captain has 3,461 hits, good for sixth all time. And with the bat leaving the game, too, it’s safe to say Jeter has made it his own.
But Louisville Slugger says there’s a way for the bat to make a comeback: If any decedent of Pinkham wants to use it, the P72 is back in the game.
To commemorate Jeter’s retirement and the end of the P72’s career, Louisville Slugger put together a cool video tracking how the bat is made. It’s a must watch for anyone who loves baseball:
Photos and video courtesy Louisville Slugger