The mystery of Albert Belle’s missing corked bat has been solved.
Former Cleveland pitcher Jason Grimsley, now with the New York Yankees, crawled through the bowels of Comiskey Park five years ago to replace the corked bat of then-teammate Belle. The bat was being held in the umpires’ room.
The confession by Grimsley was reported Sunday in the New York Times, clearing up one of baseball’s ongoing mysteries.
“That was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I’ve ever experienced,” Grimsley said.
In the first inning of a Cleveland-Chicago game on July 15, 1994, 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 the bat and put it in his locker. The Indians panicked, knowing the bat was corked.
Grimsley, 6-foot-3 and a slim 180 pounds, volunteered for the mission to get it back.
The Times reported that he took a cork-free bat belonging to Paul Sorrento--all of Belle’s bats were corked. Grimsley said he knew there was an escape hatch in the ceiling in the clubhouse and figured there was one as well in the umpires’ dressing room.
Crawling on his belly, a flashlight in his mouth, he finally found the spot, dropped down on a refrigerator and swiped the bat from Phillips’ locker.
After the game, the umpires immediately suspected foul play since the bat bore Sorrento’s name. The American League even spoke of bringing in the FBI.
Finally, 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 that was reduced to seven games on appeal.
The Seattle Mariners’ infield got more bad news when the team found out Carlos Guillen will miss the rest of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Guillen, 23, suffered the injury Saturday night when he tagged out Oakland’s Tony Phillips during a rundown. Guillen began the season at second base but moved to shortstop after All-Star Alex Rodriguez had surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee three days ago.
The Mariners also learned that pitcher Mac Suzuki was charged with driving under the influence and hit-and-run driving after an accident with an unoccupied car shortly after midnight Friday near the Kingdome. Prosecutors said Suzuki’s blood-alcohol level was close to .14%. The legal threshold is .08% in Washington. Suzuki, 23, pleaded innocent Saturday in King County District Court and was freed on $1,500 bail.
The Baltimore Orioles activated second baseman Delino DeShields, who broke his left thumb during spring training. DeShields had no hits in three at-bats Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore also recalled pitcher Doug Linton, who started against the Blue Jays. . . . The Blue Jays put Homer Bush on the 15-day disabled list because of cut finger suffered while sliding in a game Saturday.