The Corked Bat: To Cork Or Not To Cork

Corked Bat

The Corked Bat: To Cork Or Not To Cork

How To

Step 1

This is how you do it: Purchase a drill and a wooden bat. Use the 1/2 inch drill bit to bore out a six-inch deep hole. Fill the hole with crushed cork, sawdust, bouncy balls, or any other material that fits this profile. Then patch the top of the hole with a mixture of sawdust and glue. The glue bottle will tell you how long to let the concoction dry. Inspect and properly camouflage your work with pine tar or dirt or something similar.

Step 2

Take the corked bat out and use it. The idea is that you have deceptively made your bat lighter and you can get your barrel through the zone faster. Better bat control means you are more successful with the stick.

Step 3

Don’t get caught.

Who Got Caught

Graig Nettles

Batting leadoff for the corked bat crew is Mr. Graig Nettles. Nettles and the New York Yankees were on a Midwest road trip during the summer of 1974. They were playing in Chicago when a local Yankees fan approached Nettles with a bat. He gave the bat to Graig and told him that it would bring him good luck. Nettles took the bat and went about his baseball business.

The 1974 season progressed and the Yankees were playing the Detroit Tigers at Shea Stadium (this is not a typo, the Yankees played at Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated). Nettles, who had homered in his previous at-bat, hit a broken-bat single. As Graig rounded first, Tigers catcher, Bill Freehan scrambled about picking up six super balls that had magically appeared from the broken bat. Nettles had some explaining to do.

And what was his explanation? It was the bat that the fan had given him in Chicago. Poor Graig, duped into cheating by a Chicago-based Yankees fan. The home run stood, but the single was stricken from the record book. Nettles received no suspension. Apparently, his story was good enough. You be the judge.

Billy Hatcher

Billy Hatcher, our number two hitter, was having an offensive career year for the Houston Astros. The Chicago Cubs were visiting the Astrodome and Billy made his way to the plate with a bat he had borrowed from one of the Astros pitching staff. Hatcher swung at a pitch and broke his bat. Wood went one way and cork went the other. When Billy explained that it wasn’t his bat, and also that pitchers sometimes use corked bats during batting practice, the umpires let him off with a warning. Just kidding, they rolled their eyes and Hatcher was given a 10-game suspension. Nice try, Billy.

Albert Belle

In the three slot is Cleveland Indians slugger, Albert Belle. The 1994 season saw Belle on his way to a career-high 50 home runs and a 10-game suspension for corking his bat. Here’s how it happened: The Indians were playing the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were suspicious of Albert’s bat and had the umpires confiscate it for examination following the game. The bat was placed in the umpire’s room and the game resumed. Belle’s teammate, Jason Grimsley, took it upon himself to crawl 30 feet through the stadium ductwork and retrieve the bat from the umpire’s room, replacing it with a Paul Sorrento model.

Following the game, the umpires returned to their room expecting to do a little detective work on Belle’s bat and were disappointed to see different lumber. The umpires contacted Commissioner Bud Selig. Selig vowed to uncover the conspiracy, but before he could, the Indians, hat (and offending bat) in hand returned the bat for examination. Guess what they found? Corked bat. Albert enjoyed his 10-day vacation.

Chris Sabo

Corked bat cleanup hitter, Chris Sabo was the Rookie of the Year in 1988 and helped lead the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series victory in 1990. He was known for his flat top hair cut, Rec Spec glasses, and his ability to tamper with a bat. Injuries plagued the end of his career, which slowed his offensive production and most likely led him to less honest endeavors. Sabo was caught in his crafty ways during a 1996 homestand against the Astros when he shattered his bat on a pitch from Mike Hampton. The umpires quickly gathered the evidence and came to the obvious conclusion: Sabo was using a corked bat.

Sabo denied that the bat was his, but he was given a seven-game suspension regardless of his disallowance. Also, Chris pointed to his dismal offensive numbers on the season, stating “that’s hardly an endorsement for the cork industry”. ’96 proved to be Sabo’s final season in the big leagues, and his wrap-around glasses, flat top, and corked bat became a thing of the past.

Wilton Guerrero

Wilton Guerrero, brother of Vladimir Guerrero and Uncle to Vlad Jr., did a strange thing on June 1, 1997. He hit an infield grounder and broke his bat in the process. But, instead of running to first, Guerrero frantically picked up the pieces of his broken bat. The umpires found Wilton’s actions to be a bit odd and decided to snoop around for some answers. They found answers in the form of, you guessed it, cork. To Guerrero’s credit, he fessed up and admitted to having the bat for the past few months. Our number five hitter received an eight-game suspension.

Sammy Sosa

The Cubs were hosting the Tampa Bay Rays when beloved by all Sammy Sosa did a cringe worthy thing: he used a corked bat. This lands Sammy in the six-hole on the all-corking team. It went down in much the same way that the others did: Sosa came to bat. The pitcher threw the ball. Sosa swung at the ball and broke his bat. The umpires noticed some cork. Sosa made excuses like the bat wasn’t his, but that didn’t matter. He received an eight-game suspension.

This would not be the most reputation damaging thing that happened to Sosa that year. Can you guess what was? No? The list that came out by season’s end naming players, including Sosa, of PED use.

Filling Out The Lineup With The Honest and Almost Caught

Since 1970, umpires have caught six players using corked bats. But that doesn’t mean they were the only ones to use them.

Batting seventh for the corking nine is Amos Otis, who, after the end of a long career, admitted to using a corked bat the entire time. Also, former player and manager, Phil Garner, said that he used a corked bat against Gaylord Perry, which seems only fair because Perry was, cough cough, known for adding a little something to his baseballs. Pete Rose, who was already banned from baseball for other dishonest actions, rounds out the lineup. Pete was accused of using corked bats while chasing Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record. Rose denied the accusations, but two of Pete’s bats from that record-breaking season showed signs of corking when x-rayed, which is enough to let him squeak onto the all-corking team. Another feather in the cap for old Charlie Hustle.

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