Is there now proof that Pete Rose corked his bat?

The X-ray photo above is apparently Pete Rose’s Mizuno PR4192 bat, which he used in 1985 in efforts to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record. As you can see from the photo, the barrel of the bat is hollowed out and filled with cork. has the details about the sports collector that discovered the bat:

Schubert knew he had a unique bat from the beginning. The tape job was uncharacteristically heavy, and Rose had painted a white “14” on both the knob and the head of the bat. Most of Rose’s bats had his number on the knob, whether due to superstition or the practicality of finding it in the rack. But on the head? Well, that was a different story. Only a handful of known Rose bats have the “14” on the head.

A fellow collector urged Schubert to inspect the bat head, and he discovered a circular patch of rough wood under the white paint, about eight-tenths of an inch across. Could it be a drill hole?

Schubert had to know. He took the bat to an X-ray technician, who laid the bat on a table and punched a few buttons. Within minutes an image appeared on the monitor.

Many players use (or claim to use, after they’ve been caught) corked bats only in batting practice. If this bat turned out to be altered, there would be concrete proof that Pete Rose had used a corked bat in a game. Which wouldn’t come as a surprise to many.

“There was no question he wanted the record,” Taube says. “At that point in his career, he was going to do whatever he had to do.” A game-used corked bat would add to the mountain of evidence that ballplayers only take the rulebook as a suggestion, especially when baseball’s supposedly sacrosanct records are at stake.

“We never thought to look,” says Adam Wolter. “Usually you cork it for power. Pete didn’t need that or want that. But I guarantee a lot of people are going to be checking their own Pete Rose bats now.”

They have been. John Taube has a PR4192 with white paint on the head, concealing what appears to be a drill hole. Same goes for Chuck Long, an Ohio collector. And Steve Mears, a Southern California collector, also went and got his X-rayed.

Do yourself a favor and read the entire story. It’s bizarre.

Quite frankly, I don’t know what to make of this report. Not that I discount Deadspin’s reputation, but how easy is it to doctor a photo? It’s clear that those bats are corked in the article, but are they the same bats in the X-ray machine? Who’s to say that they didn’t take pictures of different bats?

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rose did cork his bat. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear anything about what Rose did during his baseball days. As the article points out, this is the same man that vehemently denied betting on baseball and now he charges people to autograph balls with, “Sorry I bet on baseball” written on them. He’s not the most honest person to walk the earth.

I’ll be interesting to see if one of the bigger media outlets picks up on the story and does its own investigation.

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