The photo above is a game-used Mickey Mantle bat from 1964. The piece of timber will go up for auction later this month, but before bidding opened up something in the middle was spotted during an x-ray.
You guessed it, that’s cork. There have been allegations that Mantle may have been corking towards the end of his career in order to quicken up his swing without sacrificing power, but now there is definitive proof.
John Taube, the PSA/DNA authentication expert who examined the bat, describes it, courtesy of Deadspin:
“During our examination of the bat, we noticed a circular area .75 inches wide in the center of the top barrel. 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….we had the barrel x-rayed and (it) confirms that the barrel has been drilled and filled with cork.”
It somehow feels wrong to accuse one of the game’s greats of cheating. We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the proof, as they say, is very much in the pudding.
If we don’t at least acknowledge the fact that Mantle did indeed cork his bat, how can we so easily vilify guys such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire?
It just looks like baseball has always been what it may always be: A game of young men trying to gain an advantage against even younger, more talented men.