by Rick Redman
First times are rare when you’ve been in baseball as long as Louisville Slugger®, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball®. But the storied company did something at the end of the 2014 season that it’s never done in 130 years in the game. It retired a bat model in honor of a player.
In an unprecedented display of respect and admiration from a sporting goods manufacturer, Louisville Slugger announced it was retiring Derek Jeter’s famous P72. The company surprised Jeter with the announcement in a private pre-game ceremony in Yankee Stadium on September 24.
“We didn’t do this for Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron or any of the other great players we’ve been associated with dating back to 1884,”said James Sass, Director of Professional Baseball Sales for the Louisville, Kentucky-based company. “Derek has swung one bat model from one bat company his entire career. He made over 12,500 plate appearances in his 20 seasons in MLB, and every single one of them was with a Louisville Slugger P72. With Derek’s retirement, we thought it was fitting to retire his bat model in recognition of his brilliant career. We are grateful for his enduring and unwavering loyalty. Louisville Slugger won’t be making the P72 anymore – in honor of Derek.”
Louisville Slugger officials gave Jeter an award to commemorate the retirement of his bat model. A P72 Jeter model bat was mounted on a three-foot base inscribed with “The Last P72” to commemorate the company’s decision.
“I signed out of high school and I was looking for a wooden bat,” Jeter said. “Louisville Slugger, it goes without saying, how reputable they are, how long they’ve been around, how much success people have had with it. In terms of the model, I just picked the bat that was shaped like my aluminum bat. It was the P72, and, in my entire career, I’ve never swung another bat.”
RENAMING THE P72 FOR DEREK JETER
Jeter’s decision to choose and stick with the P72 is one that has certainly worked out well for him. He’s now ranked sixth on the all-time career hits list. The P72 has been one of the more popular models with MLB® players over the decades. In addition to Jeter, it has been swung by Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., and Robin Yount, among others. The specifications of the P72, with its medium barrel and balanced swing weight, will still exist for players to order, but under a new model name.
“Currently, guys like Lyle Overbay and Kelly Johnson in MLB and a few guys in the minor leagues swing the P72,” Sass said. “They’ll still be able to order the specifications of the bat but it will have a new name. We’re going to call it the DJ2 in recognition of Derek and his incredible career.”
The DJ stands, obviously, for Jeter’s first and last initials while the number 2 signifies his uniform number.
RETIRING P72 MODEL WILL BENEFIT JETER’S TURN 2 FOUNDATION, LOUISVILLE SLUGGER BUYS BACK FIRST OF LAST P72s
In addition to retiring the P72 model number, Louisville Slugger honored Jeter by giving him the final seventy-two P72 bats ever produced to raise funds for his beloved Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter will sign and number the bats, 1 through 72, and auction them for his foundation.
“We know how much Derek’s Turn 2 Foundation means to him, so we wanted to do something significant to help the organization as it works to positively impact young lives,” Sass said. “So we gave Derek the last 72 of his P72s to use for Turn 2. These bats will be amazing collector’s items, and, should help him raise a lot of money for his foundation.”
Louisville Slugger purchased back the first of the last P72 bats to exhibit in its Louisville Slugger Museum. The museum provided a check for $5,000 to Jeter’s foundation for the special bat, and to set the bar for these rare and collectible Derek Jeter P72s to raise as much money as possible for his foundation. For more information on the Turn 2 Foundation, please visit www.turn2foundation.org.