The batting “donut” is a heavy circular lead weight encased in rubber which is slid up to the barrel of the baseball bat. Before this invention, players waiting in the on-deck circle would swing 2 or 3 bats at a time to loosen up. Then, the bat of choice would feel lighter and easier to swing when it was time to step up to the plate.
This invention is credited to Elston Howard, a catcher who played with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox from 1955 to 1968. Howard is also noted for being the first to use the index and pinky fingers to communicate to the other fielders that there were two outs.
The Yankees retired Howard’s jersey number 32 in 1984.