|Thursday, June 5
Updated: June 6, 4:19 PM ET
Corked-bat mistake happened to me once
By Joe Morgan
Special to ESPN.com
For all those who jumped to conclusions after Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat, it looks like Sosa's explanation was more correct than their accusations.
Sosa said he used the corked bat only for batting practice and picked it up by mistake in Tuesday night's game. Since then, all 76 of Sosa's bats that were confiscated after the incident have been X-rayed and found to be completely cork-free.
Sosa's accomplishments should not be tarnished by this one incident, according to the statement released Thursday by the Hall. Some writers have suggested that Sosa's Hall credentials should now be questioned. I disagree with that. Sosa should be punished, but it hasn't been proved that this is anything more than an isolated incident.
Since Sosa's bats were demonstrated to be clean, I accept his explanation. In fact, I understand how a batter could use a corked bat by mistake -- because it happened to me once.
I had two or three corked bats, made for me by a carpenter, that I used for batting practice when I played with the San Francisco Giants in 1981. We used them because the cold conditions made our hands hurt during BP. The corked bat would soften the sting and protect your hands. I also used aluminum bats during batting practice, for the same reason.
One day, I forgot to take the corked bats back to my clubhouse locker after BP. During the game, one of my bats broke, and the bat boy brought a couple of other bats to me. I just grabbed one, because all my bats were the same. After I hit a fly ball to right field, I thought, "That didn't feel right." I went back to look at the bat, and sure enough -- it was the corked bat I had used in BP and forgotten to put away.
By the way, there's a debate about whether a corked bat actually causes a batted ball to travel farther. My experience was that corked bats did not make the ball go farther -- at least they didn't help me. I agree with ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine on this issue.
I also agree with ESPN analyst Harold Reynolds that it's possible that a corked-bat event like Sosa's could simply be a mistake. It isn't probable, but it's possible. I know, because it happened to me.
Chat Reminder: I'll answer your questions in an ESPN.com chat Friday at 10:45 a.m. ET.
An analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan won back-to-back World Series with the Reds. He contributes a weekly column to ESPN.com.