Oh Albert Belle, he really could hit those dingers! Of course, the cork helped. During a July 1994 game against the Chicago White Sox, the Sox spoke up about Albert Belle’s bat, namely the fact that they believed it was filled with cork.
The home plate umpire took Belle’s bat, sending it to his locker for further examination.The Indians, knowing the bat was corked, collectively scratched Chief Wahoo’s red head, wondering what to do.
The consensus: Send pitcher Jason Grimsley through the ventilation system to Belle’s bat in the umps’ locker room. Switch Belle’s bat out with another (in this case, Paul Sorrento). Of course, Sorrento’s bat had his name and number on it, so the umps’ while they may not see everything, saw that the bat was not Belle’s.
Indeed, the custodian for the umpire’s locker room spotted bits of ceiling tile on the floor and damage to the ceiling: evidence of Grimsley’s Mission Impossible routine.
And to take things to an even more absurd level, the Chicago police were involved in the investigation and the room was dusted for fingerprints (which seems like a bit much, considering the limited pool of suspects).
The Tribe were told they had to hand over Albert Belle’s bat to the American League. The Indians reluctantly complied, sending the bat to the league offices in New York on July 18. To add to the drama, Belle and Indians GM John Hart were ordered to be on hand as well when the league sawed into the slugger’s bat to examine its contents.
Couldn’t this have been a half-hour television special with the sawing done live? Anyway, of course the bat was found to be corked and Belle was slapped with a 10-game suspension.
Of course, none of this really mattered as the 1994-1995 season was quickly cancelled due to the players strike.
Grimsley admitted to his part in the subterfuge years later, saying he wanted to replace the corked bat with another of Belle’s bat…however, they all were corked.