LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2013 —In light of accusations that Mickey Mantle used a corked bat, Turn Back the Clock Tuesday turns the clock back to 1997. Wilton Guerrero of the Los Angeles Dodgers was found to have used a corked bat in a game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were visiting the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1, 1997. Alan Benes was on the mound to start the game for St. Louis. Rookie second baseman Wilton Guerrero was the leadoff batter for the Dodgers.
Wilton Guerrero hit the 1-1 pitch on the ground to the second baseman, Delino DeShields. Normally, when a play like this happens, the batter runs to first base to try to beat out the throw. Sometimes, a lazy player will just lightly jog towards first without ever getting there, knowing he has no chance to beat the throw.
Neither of those two things occurred. When Guerrero made contact, his bat shattered. The shards went flying into the infield grass, or Astroturf as it was at that time in St. Louis. Instead of running to beat out the throw or lightly jogging down the first base line, Wilton Guerrero ran in another direction.
He went chasing after his bat shards in the infield. Perhaps he figured that he could collect them all and get back to the dugout without anybody noticing. He was wrong.
Home plate umpire Steve Rippley, along with everybody in attendance and watching on TV, decided that this behavior seemed suspicious. At the very least, it was strange. Upon examining the broken bat’s shards, it was revealed that Wilton Guerrero was using a corked bat, which is against the rules.
Not that there could have been any doubt after seeing Guerrero running after his broken bat, but Dodger coach Manny Mota said, “He knew before he used it. He admits it.”
Wilton Guerrero received an eight game suspension for using the illegal bat. He was the fifth player since 1970 to be caught using a corked bat. Sammy Sosa, who is the last player to be caught, said he used them for batting practice. When Sosa got caught, it was just a mistake that his batting practice bat got mixed in with his game bats.
Recently, a bat that was said to be used by Mickey Mantle in a game was put up for auction. In examining the bat, they discovered that the bat had been corked. The family of Mickey Mantle took to the offensive in defense of their late father.
In a statement they said, “We no longer can remain silent. The statements and suggestions that Dad used a corked bat more than 49 years ago to cheat at the game he worshipped are false. Let us be clear: Dad didn’t need and never used a corked bat.”
The bat is no longer up for auction.
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