Results tagged ‘ Robin Yount ’

Louisville Slugger retires Jeter’s bat model P72

What Louisville Slugger did to honor Derek Jeter Wednesday was unprecedented in the 130-year history of the company that is the official bat maker of Major League Baseball. The manufacturers announced that it is retiring Jeter’s model P72.

James Sass, director of professional baseball sales for the company based in Louisville, Ky., said, “Derek has swung one bat model from one bat company his entire career. He has made more than 12,500 plate appearances in his 20 MLB seasons, and every single one of them has been with a Louisville Slugger P72. With Derek’s impending 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. In honor of Derek’s tremendous career and impact, we won’t be making the P72 anymore.”

Company officials surprised the Captain with their decision in a presentation of “The Last P72” before Wednesday’s Yankees-Orioles game at Yankee Stadium.

The P72 has been one of the more popular models with players over the decades. In addition to Jeter, who ranks sixth on the all-time career hits list, 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. It will be called the DJ2 in recognition of Jeter’s and his career. There is one potential exception where Louisville Slugger could use the P72 name on bats again;the company says it will invoke a grandfather clause to use P72 for any descendent of the player the bat was originally made: Les Pinkham

In addition to retiring the P72 model number, Louisville Slugger will give the final 72 P72 bats to be produced to Jeter to raise funds for his Turn 2 Foundation, which he founded in his rookie season.

“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’re giving Derek the last 72 of his P72’s to use for Turn 2. These bats will be amazing collectors’ items and should help raise a lot of money for his foundation.”

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will purchase back the first of the final 72 bats to exhibit in its main gallery in Louisville. The museum provided a check for $5,000 to the Turn 2 Foundation.

Jeter ordered 33.5-inch, 31-ounce P72 model bats in 1995 and 1996. He went to a longer and heavier 34-inch, 32-ounce model P72 Louisville Slugger in 1997 and has stayed with it ever since. In his 20-season career, Jeter has ordered more than 2,500 P72 model Louisville Slugger bats.

Previous players who swung the P72 in addition to Ripken and Yount, both former two-time American League Most Valuable Players (Yount in 1982 & ’89, Ripken in 1983 & ’91), include another two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez (1996 & ’98), 1999 AL MVP Ivan Rodriguez, 1977 National League MVP George Foster, 1982 World Series MVP Darrell Porter, Yankees bench coach and former catcher Tony Pena, Athletics general manager and former outfielder Billy Beane, as well as Andy Van Slyke, Gary Gaetti, Glenn Hubbard, Jose Cruz, Mike Easler, Sandy Alomar Jr., Von Hayes, Nomar Garciaparra and two of Jeter’s closest friends, Gerald Williams and Harold Reynolds.

Orioles second baseman Kelly Johnson, who was a teammate of Jeter with the Yankees this season until he was traded in July, used a P72 model bat when he homered Tuesday night at the Stadium.

Louisville Slugger created the P72 in 1954 for Leslie Wayne Pinkham, a minor league player from Elizabethtown, Ky., who was playing Triple A baseball in Columbus, Ohio. The “P” denotes the first letter of Pinkham’s last name. “72” means Pinkham was the 72nd pro player whose last name started with “P” for whom Louisville Slugger made a specific model bat, thus the “P72.” His son, Bill Pinkham, also used his father’s bat model when he was a player in the Reds organization.

Louisville Slugger presented Jeter with a special award to commemorate the retiring of the P72 model number. The award features the last P72 ever made for Jeter. These are the words engraved on the award presented to Jeter:

Louisville Slugger® created the P72 model in 1954 for Leslie Wayne Pinkham. It became one of professional baseball’s most popular bats.

Derek Jeter swung a Louisville Slugger P72 for every plate appearance he made over his 20-season MLB career.

In honor of the Yankee Captain’s retirement, and in acknowledgement of his unwavering loyalty, Louisville Slugger officially retires the P72 at the conclusion of the 2014 MLB season, 60 years after it was created.

The Derek Jeter signature model bat mounted here is the last P72.

Shortstop = Derek Jeter

Some years ago I got into a chat with Derek Jeter about playing shortstop. I mentioned to him that in doing some research for a story I was doing on Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Famer, I discovered that he only played shortstop in the major leagues. All 2,583 games of “Little Looie’s” career were at that position, which I thought was pretty interesting.

So did Jeter. We had been talking around the time Cal Ripken Jr. had moved from shortstop to third base about 15 years ago. We talked about how injuries forced players such as Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, two other Hall of Famers, to move off shortstop, to first base and center field, respectively.

“I’d like to try to play every game I’m in the field at shortstop,” DJ said. “It’s really the only position I know. If I’m good enough, I can do it.”

Luis Aparicio at Yankee Stadium, c. 1959

It is fair to say that Jeter has been good enough. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Barring his going into the field later in the game, DJ will have to wait until Friday night to match what Aparicio did. It would be Jeter’s 2,583rd game at shortstop, which would tie Aparicio for second on the all-time list of games played at that position. It will be an appropriate place to do it considering that Aparicio played for the White Sox in 10 of his 18 major-league seasons. He also spent five years with the Orioles and three with the Red Sox.

And just like Aparicio, Jeter has played only shortstop whenever he has been on the field. Jeter has been a designated hitter in 58 games but has played no other position in the field. The DH rule went into effect in 1973, which was Aparicio’s last season in the majors, but he was never a DH that year.

The record for career games at shortstop is held by Omar Vizquel with 2,709. He played several other positions, however, in his major-league total of 2,940. Vizquel played in 150 games at third base, 76 at second base, three at first base, one in left field and one in right field.

Since this is Jeter’s final season in the majors, he cannot catch Vizquel. The Captain is 127 games behind Vizquel. The Yankees have 116 games remaining in the season. But Jeter will end up with the distinction that for 40 years belonged to Luis Aparicio as the career shortstop.

Yanks top Orioles but are hurting

The Yankees slushed their way through the rain for an 8-5 victory Monday night in Baltimore that dropped the Orioles into a first-place tie with the Rays in the tightly-bunched American League East where the Bombers are only 1 ½ games out of first. It was a painful triumph, however.

Starting pitcher Ivan Nova, who had an uneven outing, took a hot shot off his right foot on a single by Nick Markakis in the third inning and had to come out of the game one out in the sixth after spraining his right ankle while fielding a chopper by Wilson Betemit. X-rays were negative, which is a positive sign but Nova was definitely in pain and is not definite to make his next start.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the game that David Robertson has been bothered by a sore left ribcage, which is why Rafael Soriano closed out the game and chalked up his second save. Robertson will undergo tests Tuesday.

Left fielder Raul Ibanez also had to come out of the game in the ninth inning when he was hit on the right elbow by a pitch from Orioles lefthander Dana Eveland.

The obvious replacement if Nova needs to be skipped in the rotation would be David Phelps, who earned his first major-league victory as part of an ensemble bullpen effort from five relievers who combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits but no walks and six strikeouts.

Another positive combination came from 3-4-5 hitters as Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira teamed up to go 7-for-14 with 2 doubles, 1 home run, 2 RBI and 7 runs. The doubles were by Cano and Teixeira, and the homer was by Teixeira, who really needed it. Girardi has been facing questions recently about whether Tex should be buried deeper down the lineup. There were no such questions Monday night.

For the second straight game, Derek Jeter passed a Hall of Famer on the career hit list and grounded into two double plays (although replays of the second twin killing indicated he was really safe). The Captain’s third-inning single was career hit No. 3,143, breaking a tie with Robin Yount to put him in 16th place alone, nine hits behind No. 15 Paul Waner and 11 back of No. 14 George Brett.

Curtis Granderson, who played in his 1,000th game Sunday, homered in his 1,001st game. The center fielder’s 12th home run of the season was his second this year at Camden Yards. The other 10 have all been at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 4-0 at Camden Yards this season.

The Yankees have 10 players on their roster, including the disabled list, who have played in more than 1,000 games. In addition to Granderson, the others are Jeter, Rodriguez, Ibanez, Teixeira, Cano, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Nick Swisher and Mariano Rivera). That is the most since 2009 when the Dodgers had 11 players with 1,000 or more games.

Grandy nominated for Hank Aaron Award

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide whether Curtis Granderson is the American League Most Valuable Player or not, but Yankees fans can have a big say about whether the center fielder should win the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player.

Granderson is the Yankees’ nominee for the award that was established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, a mark that now belongs to Barry Bonds. Log on to or to register your vote.

For the second consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron himself will join fans in voting for the award. Aaron added new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and another all-time great second baseman, Joe Morgan, to this year’s panel to join holdovers Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.

Granderson had a spectacular year for the Yankees, batting .262 and becoming the first player in major league history to get at least 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in the same year. Curtis led the majors in runs (136), ranked second in home runs (41) and extra base hits (81) and third in RBI (119) and total bases (332). He was the first player this season to get to 100 runs and 100 RBI and did so in his first 126 games.

Yankees players who previously won the Hank Aaron Award were Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2009 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007. A-Rod also won two twice when he was with the Rangers, in 2001 and 2003. Andruw Jones, currently with the Yankees, was the National League winner in 2005 when he was with the Braves.

Winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the World Series. It would be terrific if Curtis could pick up the award while the Yanks were in the Series. It’s up to you, fans.

Tremendous trio

When Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera made their 2011 debuts Thursday, they also continued to make history. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that they are the first trio of teammates in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to play together in each of 17 consecutive seasons, extending the record they established in 2010.

Jeter, Posada and Rivera have been teammates since 1995. Mo is the senior member of the trio. He came up in May of ’95 and pitched in 19 games, including 10 as a starter. He gained nation-wide attention for his outstanding work in that year’s first Division Series against the Mariners (0 runs, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings).

Jeter played in 15 games in May and June as a replacement for injured shortstop Tony Fernandez and hit .250 in 48 at-bats. Posada played behind the plate in only one inning of one game as a September call-up and did not bat.

The previous pro sports record for consecutive seasons by three teammates was 15 by the Brewers’ trio of Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount from 1978 through 1992. Tied for the second longest trio of Yankees who played 13 years together: Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing from 1930 through 1942 and Whitey Ford, Elston Howard and Mickey Mantle from 1955 through 1967.

Long stay at shortstop

Derek Jeter turned 36 Saturday. That may not be an age that is considered a milestone, but I have always thought it was. After all, once you’re 36 for the first time in your life you’re closer to 50 than 20. You may not be starting the back nine of your life, but the halfway house is clearly in view.

As for a professional athlete, 36 is definitely on the back nine, unless you know anyone playing in the pros in his or her 70s, excluding Minnie Minoso, of course. Yet in this day and age of dedication to conditioning and nutrition, the pro athlete can endure far long than his antecedents, and there are few in baseball in better shape than Derek Jeter.

It is hard to think of him as getting old. Other than natural maturity, I have not seen any great change in his approach or demeanor from the 21-year-old kid who came to the Yankees’ spring training camp at Tampa, Fla., in 1996 ready to assume the role of shortstop.

The plan was for regular Tony Fernandez to move to second base and be ready to switch back if Jeter did not handle the job. Fernandez got hurt and was out for the year while Jeter went on to win Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year honors and help the Yankees win their first World Series championship in 18 years.

Long ago and far away, sure, but all these years later Jeter is still a main cog on the Yankees at one of the sport’s most demanding positions. And he is in no mood to think about playing someplace else, not in a different city and not at a different position.

Yet Jeter has reached that age which historically players at his position often move to another position. No better example exists than Cal Ripken Jr., a player Jeter admires and emulates, who was shifted to third base in 1997, the year he turned 36. He played only three games at shortstop after turning 36, not counting the 2001 All-Star Game.

Two other Hall of Famers, Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, were moved from shortstop in their early 30s due to arm injuries that hampered their effectiveness in the middle infield. Banks went to first base, and Yount to center field.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with Jeter and talked to him about the Yount move. This was a time when Bernie Williams’ career was winding down, and I queried whether he had given any thought to playing center field in the future.

Not a word, just a blank stare from those piercing green eyes. “I just thought maybe we’d talk about it,” I said.

He grinned and said, “Then I guess you’ll have to find someone else to talk to about that.”

Needless to say, I never brought the subject up again, and I am not going to do so here, either. I have been of the opinion since that day that shortstop is where Derek Jeter belongs for as long as he wants to play it. If he was not coming off shortstop for Alex Rodriguez, he wasn’t coming off shortstop for Jack O’Connell.

And why should he? It is not as if he is Phil Rizzuto, who hit .195 at age 36 and was a part-time player the next year and a half. Or Pee Wee Reese, who won a World Series with the Dodgers at that age in 1955 but was moved to third base two years later. Or Joe Cronin, who played very little shortstop after the age of 35. Or such Hall of Famers as Joe Tinker, Travis Jackson, Arky Vaughan and Lou Boudreau, who were retired as players before they turned 36.

Further research shows plenty of evidence that moving off shortstop is not all that warranted. Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Luke Appling played more than 130 games at shortstop when each was 41. Rabbit Maranville, another Hall of Famer, finished 10th in the National League MVP race when he was 36 in 1928. Dave Concepcion was the Reds’ regular shortstop until he was 38, and as late as the age of 40 Omar Vizquel played 143 games at shortstop.

There are two shortstops that really stick out to me and with whom I hope Jeter will keep company – Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith. They share an amazing distinction. Shortstop was the only position they played in their entire careers – 2,518 games for Little Looie and 2,511 games for the Wizard of Oz. Each made the All-Star team playing shortstop at age 36, which Jeter will do next month.

Aparicio’s last year was 1973, the first year of the designated hitter but he was never used in that spot, and Smith spent his whole career in the DH-less National League. Jeter has been a DH in 17 games, but the only position he has played in the field is shortstop. He celebrated his 36th birthday with game No. 2,193 – and counting.

Yankees fans enjoyed Hall weekend

My pal in Cooperstown, Craig Muder, director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, sent along a report on the World Series Weekend event in which the Yankees’ 2009 trophy and other artifacts from last year’s 27th championship season were on display in the museum’s exhibit, “Autumn Glory, which celebrates each year’s playoff and World Series teams.

Among the items were the cleats Johnny Damon wore for his double steal in Game 4, bats used by Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui and the catching gear of Jorge Posada and Jose Molina in the clinching Game 6, caps worn by Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and the scorecard belonging to Suzyn Waldman, the first female broadcaster in World Series history.

“My wife and I had planned to be here this weekend anyway, but when we found out the trophy was going to be here it made it extra special,” said Brian Povio, a Yankees fan from Rochester, N.Y. “Seeing it brings you back to the World Series all over again.”

A crew from the YES Network was in town to capture the excitement. Yankees jerseys were the uniform of the day as pinstripes adorned nearly every corner of the museum – especially at the new “Pinstripe Pictures” exhibit, which opened Saturday. Located on the museum’s third floor, “Pinstripe Pictures” features photographs reproduced from the Associated Press book, “New York Yankees 365,” a photographic history celebrating more than 100 years of pinstripe baseball in the Big Apple. The exhibit will be on display through the end of 2010.

 “This is great – right where the trophy should be,” said Jackie Campbell, a Yankees fan from Troy, N.Y. “And it will be back here next year, too, after the Yankees win it again.”

The Hall also announced Tuesday that singer-songwriter John Fogerty will perform his 1985 baseball hit, “Centerfield,” during the induction ceremony July 25 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. This is the 25th anniversary of the song that has been a fixture at Hall of Fame ceremonies and ballparks throughout North America.

“Because of the lasting contributions to baseball and Americana made by John Fogerty, we are thrilled to pay homage to him and the song, as we celebrate the silver anniversary with his live performance in Cooperstown,” Hall president Jeff Idelson said. “The song captures the spirit and energy of those of us who have dreamed of being a baseball star and playing center field, like Robin Yount, Duke Snider or Willie Mays.”

Jeff chose three living Hall of Famers for his statement, but Fogerty told the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner in an interview that he grew up in Berkeley, Calif., as a Yankees fan before the Giants moved to San Francisco and that among his inspirations for the song were two other center fielders, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Andre Dawson, who played center fielder for the Expos before he moved to right field with the Cubs, will be inducted that day along with former manager Whitey Herzog and former umpire Doug Harvey. Also honored will be ESPN and Giants broadcaster Jon Miller with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence and New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for contributions to baseball writing.