I bought this signed game-used bat from a guy who won it from the Peninsula Pilots team as a contest prize the summer Ryan Zimmerman was a player for the Pilots. The Peninsula Pilots are a Coastal Plain League team. The Coastal Plain League is a collegiate summer league. Zimmerman played in the CPL in the summer of 2003, where his batting average as of August 7, 2003 was .331.
My guess is that he had to supply his own bats for league play. The SW Bat Company is out of Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is not too far from Charlottesville, VA where Zimmerman was a player at the University of Virginia. It is possible that Zimmerman knew about the SW Bat Company, and they sponsored him with bats for summer play. The baseball is an ACC baseball from the Virginia Cavaliers 2004 season. I noticed how he signed his name in 2004 with his uniform number underneath his name, which is the way the bat was also signed. Also, the features in the two signatures are similar. The characteristic “e” and “m” in Zimmerman disappear later in most of his card autographs as the volume of autograph signing increased.
I still have yet to confirm if Zimmerman's uniform number was 8 in the CPL. I do know he wore number 11 in college, which is, in fact, reflected on his ball signature. This bat has good use and wear. It is cracked. The ball marks on the bat barrel are a greenish-blue color. It makes sense to me that it was used and signed by Zimmerman during his time with the Pilots, but I have not paid to have it authenticated. It has been fun to put some pieces of this puzzle together. I found one CPL picture of him online, but he is standing without a bat and his uniform number is not visible. I do not know if there is any hobby interest in Major League Baseball player’s early bats. Nonetheless, I am happy to have acquired this one. And I hope that it is what I profess it to be. Any input or guidance into how I can better research this bat would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.