They oughta ban this guy from baseball forever.
Pete Rose, the man who broke baseball’s cardinal rule of betting on games and lied about it for years, spent most of his career corking bats, according to a second-hand source in a Montreal Gazette story today.
The all-time hit king spent most of the 1984 season with the now-defunct Montreal Expos. It was a pit stop in his journey to beat Father Time and pass Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits.
“Pete was too smart to deal with Expos equipment manager John Silverman (to cork his bats in the Expos’ clubhouse). So Bryan Greenberg, who worked in the visitors’ clubhouse, did it,” Jammer told the Gazette. “He took me into a room, a door to the left, and underneath tarps there was this machine.”
Jammer recalled that he asked Greenberg: “What’s that machine for?”
Jammer said Greenberg replied: “That’s a machine for corking Pete Rose’s bats.”
“The guy (Greenberg) was saying Rose had been corking his bat for 20 years,” Jammer said. “The guy said that nobody checks him because he’s a singles hitter.”
Rose, 43, in 1984, hit .259 with no power with Montreal before being sent to Cincinnati, his hometown team where he had played the first 16 years of his career, in a late-season trade. Rose spent the next two seasons as player-manager for the Reds, breaking Cobb’s record on Sept. 11, 1985.* He finished his career with 4,256 hits, still the all-time record.
When reached by the Gazette, Greenberg refused to talk about the illegal bat-corking and responded to allegations by saying, “They can say whatever they want.”
Rumors of Rose corking his bats have persisted for decades. In a 2001 Vanity Fair interview, his former associate Tommy Gioiosa claimed Rose corked bats. In 2010, Deadspin ran X-rays of bats and interviewed memorabilia collectors who learned bats used by Rose in 1985 were corked.
Rose was still manager of the Reds in 1989 when he accepted a lifetime ban from then-commissioner Bart Giamatti in connection to an investigation into his gambling on baseball. The Dowd Report found that Rose made 412 baseball wagers from 1985-87, with 52 of them on the Reds to win. Rose denied betting on baseball for years before coming clean in a 2004 autobiography.
Baseball has a long history of corking bats, although scientists have generally been skeptical of the value of it.
Norm Cash, author of one of the greatest fluke seasons in baseball history, hit .361 in 1961 although he was a career .271 hitter. Cash credited corked bats with his remarkable year, but he wasn’t caught or punished, so that raises the question: Why didn’t he just keep corking his bats?
Graig Nettles had a bat filled with superballs in a 1974 game. He was ruled out on what had been a single when his bat exploded. Billy Hatcher, Chris Sabo, Albert Belle and Sammy Sosa have all been suspended 7-10 games for using corked bats.
*After Rose broke the record, two hits erroneously credited to Cobb were removed and he now officially has 4,189 hits.