This is from the feature story in last weeks Sports Illustrated “Exit Stage Center” about Derek Jeter by Tom Verducci. If you want some great insights into sustained excellence, competitive greatness and leadership read this article. This story in the article about the bat really resonated with me.
“The day Jeter reported to the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa in 1992 he found himself standing over a bin filled with wood bats. Jeter the Yankee’s first-round draft choice and sixth overall, had only used a metal bat at Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich. He picked through the wood bats until he found one in size and shape that most resembled what he’d swung in high school. It was a Louisville Slugger P72, a model first crafted in 1954 for a minor leaguer named Les Pinkham. This one was 34 inches and weighed 32 ounces.
From that first day in pro ball to what will be his last covering more than 15,000 turns at bat, Jeter never used another model. “maybe I’d pick up another one in batting practice if I broke one,” he says. “But I’ve never had an at bat in a game with another one.”
In my career in professional baseball I saw players change bats weekly and sometimes daily, as if their performance depended on the bat. It’s not the bat; it’s never the bat it was Jeter’s consistent daily preparation that never varied no matter if he was on a hitting streak on in a slump, if it was the first game of the season or the seventh game of the World Series. It is about consistency and routine. That is what makes the great ones great! Jeter epitomizes the 3R’s – Routine, Repetition & Refinement.