Did Mickey Mantle Cork His Bat?
Thanks to the good people over at Deadspin.com, we may have shed some light on the unsavory tactics of one of baseball’s greatest heroes. X-Rays from the same expert who found cork in a game-used Pete Rose bat a few years ago confirmed that there was cork in a Mantle bat that was going up for auction.
With all the PED allegations swirling around modern superstars like Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano, spitball accusations flung at the AL’s best pitcher, and the general degradation of the sport’s reputation over the last 15 years of steroid use, this is a frustrating, hard-to-ignore development.
We may brush this aside because it’s from half a century ago, and we couldn’t possibly tarnish the great Yankee’s legacy, but it really shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Rose is banned from baseball forever for betting on the game, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and more are pseudo-banned from Cooperstown for their involvement (allegedly, in many cases…but let’s be real) with PED’s in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and multiple other players have been blacklisted by MLB for other significant scandals.
I’m not calling for action against the deceased Mantle or any alteration to his Hall of Fame plaque, but we must wonder at what point we accept all forms of cheating as part of the sport, and at which point we go 100 percent intolerant of it.
However, according to a Redditor who commented on this post on r/baseball and quoted an episode of Mythbusters, corking a bat may not actually benefit a hitter in any way. In fact, it might do just the opposite:
According to the MythBusters August 8, 2007 baseball special, the ball hit by a corked bat travels at only half the speed of a ball hit by an unmodified bat, causing it to go a shorter distance. The cork inside the bat actually absorbs the kinetic energy like a sponge, hindering the batter’s performance. In addition, because corked bats are lighter, they have less momentum to transfer to the ball, bringing them to the conclusion that the use of a corked bat had fewer benefits over a regular bat. The show also notes that while filling a bat with cork makes it lighter, there is nothing in the rule book that prevents a player from simply using a lighter, uncorked bat. However, contrary to the last note in the episode, the reason players “cork” a bat is to keep it as long as a heavier bat, but make it lighter; which cannot be done without some kind of non-wood filler in the sweet spot of the bat.
Does that mean it’s forgivable? Not necessarily. But it certainly seems to be one of the most tame forms of cheating.
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– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
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