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Going Batty

June 05, 2003|Chicago Tribune

*--* Sammy Sosa isn't the first major leaguer to be accused of doctoring a bat. Some players swore they were guilty only once; Others admitted that their bats spent time in the carpenter's shop: WILTON GUERRERO, Dodgers June 1, 1997 The rookie led off against the Cardinals in St. Louis by grounding out. His bat shattered, and when he scrambled to pick up the pieces instead of running it out, the umpires became suspicious. The bat had been corked. Guerrero was ejected and suspended for eight games ALBERT BELLE, Indians July 15, 1994 In the first inning, White Sox Manager Gene Lamont was tipped off that Belle had a corked bat. Lamont challenged the use of the bat and umpire Dave Phillips took it and put it in his locker. The Indians panicked, knowing the bat was indeed corked. Pitcher Jason Grimsley climbed through an escape hatch in the ceiling in the clubhouse into the umpires' dressing room. When he got there, he switched Belle's bat with one belonging to Paul Sorrento. After the game, the umpires immediately suspected foul play because the bat bore Sorrento's name. The Indians were told that if they supplied Belle's bat there would be no punishment for the switch. Belle received a 10-game suspension, reduced to seven games on appeal BILLY HATCHER, Astros Aug. 31, 1987 Hatcher, playing against the Cubs, broke his bat and it flew down the third-base line. Cub third baseman Keith Moreland saw cork, and Hatcher was suspended for 10 games. Hatcher later said he was using pitcher Dave Smith's bat, not his own. "If I had known it was corked, I would have tried to swing, but the first two times at the plate that game I tried to bunt," he said GRAIG NETTLES, Yankees Sept. 7, 1974 Nettles hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers. The next time up, he hit a broken-bat single. Tiger catcher Bill Freehan scrambled for the six super balls that came bouncing out. Nettles claimed after the game that he didn't know there was anything wrong with the bat, claiming some Yankee fan in Chicago gave it to him and said it would bring him good luck. Nettles was called out on the single, but his solo homer was allowed AMOS OTIS, Mets, Royals, Pirates 1967-1984 After retiring, Otis, a five-time All-Star who hit 193 home runs, admitted that he used a funky bat much of his career. "I had enough cork and superballs in there to blow away anything," he said NORM CASH, White Sox, Tigers 1958-74 By his own account, Cash used a corked bat during the 1961 season

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