ARLINGTON — The bat that Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton used to hit four home runs in one game at Baltimore last week is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Hamilton broke that bat on Sunday, so he can't use it any more, but this slugger could probably hit home runs with a broomstick... and American League pitchers could use the help.
The record-setting bat was on display at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Monday, giving fans a chance see it before it's shipped off to Cooperstown,.
"It felt a little sticky in my hand," said one young fan who touched the pine tar on the handle.
"That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," another fan said. "It is incredible. It is history."
Hamilton used the Louisville Slugger last week to hit nine home runs and drive in 15 runs during a six-game span — numbers equaled by only two other players since 1920.
"Yeah, it's cool," Hamilton admitted, noting that it's the first time any of his gear has been requested by the Hall of Fame.
"My wife asked me, 'You didn't have anything in there before, did you?' She thought they might have taken something from the Home Run Derby or something like that. I said, 'No, this is it.' She said, 'That's cool,' and I said, 'Yeah, it is cool.'"
Most notable during Hamilton's hot stretch were the four home runs that he hit in one game at Baltimore. He continued to use the same bat until Sunday night, even though it had already been authenticated by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He broke it hitting a single to left field.
Brad Horn, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame, said there is a reason for not taking Hamilton's bat right away. "You never want to take a gamer out of a guy's hand — whether it's a bat, a glove, any tool of the trade where a guy feels hot," he said. "You don't want to take that moment away, because the last thing you want to do is have a guy go into a slump afterward."
"What I tell the people watching our games is: Don't take for granted what you're watching right now, because it's rare," said Rangers TV analyst Tom Grieve. "In the history of the game, you don't see many players that can play the game this way. I don't care who you want to pick out — the greatest players of all time. Now, I'm not saying he's one of them yet, because you need longevity to do that, but over this period of time, what he's done is the same kind of thing only the greatest players do."
Hamilton said he's never been to Cooperstown, but now that a cap, a jersey, and a bat of his will be on display there, a trip to the Hall of Fame has suddenly moved up on his "to-do" list.