A corked bat believed to have belonged to legendary New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle will be auctioned off later this month.
Grey Flannel Auctions Inc. will auction the bat, which carries a $5,000 reserve price. PSA/DNA authenticator John Taube was attempting to determine whether the bat had indeed been used by Mantle when he noticed modifications indicative of illegal bat-corking.
“During our examination of the bat, we noticed a circular area .75 inches wide in the center of the top barrel,” Taube said in a statement. “The finish in the area has also been touched up to mask the circular area. Alterations of this nature indicate the barrel has been drilled and filled with cork.”
Mantle, a four-time American League home run champion who hit 536 dingers during his 17-year baseball career, has never before been linked to bat-corking.
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“This is the first corked bat of Mantle that we have seen or heard of,” Taube added.
Taube noted that he was able to verify the bat’s authenticity by identifying a pine tar pattern consistent with other Mantle bats from the 1960’s.
“The use of pine tar by Mantle was common from the early 1960’s to the end of his career. This characteristic was captured in numerous photos of Mantle at the plate. The bat exhibits evidence of appropriate use.”
Although the corked bat almost certainly belonged to Mantle, it is unclear whether he actually used it during a game.
Bat-corking is illegal in Major League Baseball, and the practice has ensnared several of the sport’s most-storied figures. For years, players have used cork and other foreign substances to improve bat speed and power.
In 2003, former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa was suspended for eight games after his bat broke during a game, launching pieces of cork across the field.
Earlier this year, a corked bat belonging to Pete Rose sold at auction for $8,000, the New York Post reports.