In baseball, a corked bat is a specially modified baseball bat that has been filled with cork or other lighter, less dense substances to make the bat lighter. A lighter bat gives a hitter a quicker swing and may improve the hitter's timing. In Major League Baseball, modifying a bat with foreign substances and using it in play is illegal and subject to ejection and further punishment.
To cork a bat, a hole approximately 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) in diameter is drilled down through the thick end of the bat roughly six inches deep. Crushed cork, bouncy ball, sawdust, or other similar material is compacted into the hole and the end is typically patched up with glue and sawdust. However, this weakens the bat's structural integrity and makes it more susceptible to breakage, even more so if the cork is placed beyond roughly six inches into the bat. Corked bats are typically discovered when they break during play.
Using a corked bat in Major League Baseball is in violation of Rule 6.06 (d), which reads in full:
A batter is out for illegal action when:
(d) He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire's judgment, has been altered or tampered with in such a way to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball. This includes, bats that are filled, flat surfaced, nailed, hollowed, grooved or covered with a substance such as paraffin, wax, etc. No advancement on the bases will be allowed and any out or outs made during a play shall stand. In addition to being called out, the player shall be ejected from the game and may be subject to additional penalties as determined by his League Punishment advisor.
Since 1970, six players have been caught using corked bats. The following table summarizes these events:
|Sammy Sosa||Chicago Cubs||June 3, 2003||Eight games||Corked bat||Bat was meant to only be used in batting practice|
|Wilton Guerrero||Los Angeles Dodgers||June 1, 1997||Eight games||Corked bat||None|
|Chris Sabo||Cincinnati Reds||July 29, 1996||Seven games; Reds fined $25,000||Corked bat||Borrowed bat from unnamed teammate|
|Albert Belle||Cleveland Indians||July 15, 1994||Seven games||Corked bat||None|
|Billy Hatcher||Houston Astros||August 31, 1987||Ten days||Corked bat||Borrowed bat from pitcher Dave Smith|
|Graig Nettles||New York Yankees||September 7, 1974||Ten days||Six super balls in bat||Received bat as a gift from a fan|
In 2010, Deadspin reported that Pete Rose used corked bats during his 1985 pursuit of Ty Cobb's all-time hits record. Two sports memorabilia collectors who owned Rose's game-used bats from that season had the bats x-rayed and found the telltale signs of corking. Rose had previously denied using corked bats.
- "MLB Official Rules, Section 6", MLB.com (accessed June 8, 2006)
- "MythBusters Baseball Special". MythBusters. Season 6. Episode 83. 2007-08-08.
- "History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian". Smithsonianmag.com. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
- "Corked bat-related penalty reduced by one game", ESPN.com news services, June 11, 2003 (accessed March 6, 2009)
- "Sosa gets eight games, appeals", MLB.com (accessed June 28, 2006)
- Petchesky, Barry (June 8, 2010). "This Is Pete Rose's Corked Bat". Deadspin (Gawker Media). Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Littmann, Chris (8 June 2010). "Corked Bats Reportedly Belonging to Pete Rose Come to Light". SBNation. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Pete Rose interview". Cincinnati Enquirer. January 13, 2004. Retrieved 16 June 2016.