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Sammy Sosa's Corked Bat Up For Auction

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Sammy Sosa's Corked Bat Up For Auction

Sports

Sammy Sosa's Corked Bat Up For Auction

Sammy Sosa's Corked Bat Up For Auction

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The bids are rolling in for an infamous piece of baseball history. Half of the corked bat that slugger Sammy Sosa snapped in two is on the auction block. It happened back in 2003, when Sosa was playing for the Chicago Cubs in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sosa was ejected from the game for playing with a corked bat, and subsequently suspended for seven games. But the barrel of the bat disappeared. Now, former Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that he had it all along, and he's putting it up for sale.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

To baseball and a relic now up for auction from one of the game's darker days. It was June 3, 2003, a Tuesday. In the first inning of a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays, then the Devil Rays, slugger Sammy Sosa stepped up to the plate, swung and hit a grounder to second base. All eyes, though, were on Sosa's bat lying on the ground, broken in two and cork visible inside. Sosa was ejected from the game. The bat's handle was confiscated by umpires, but it's long been a mystery what happened to the other half. Well, mystery no more. The barrel was picked up by the winning pitcher that night -the Cubs Mike Remlinger - and he's put it up for auction this month.

Mr. Remlinger, thanks for taking a break from your vacation to talk with us.

Mr. MIKE REMLINGER: Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Tell us the story. How did you end up with half of Sammy Sosa's bat?

Mr. REMLINGER: Well, I was in the bullpen at the time that he got caught with the bat, and I came inside to go talk to him in the clubhouse. And on my way up the runway between the dugout and the clubhouse, the bat was laying in the runway. So I grabbed it, and I had a fishing rod case up above my locker that was big enough and wide enough to stick it down in there and throw some towels in it. And I didn't know if they'd be looking for it or not, but I figured it wasn't going to be any help to us if Sammy got a longer suspension, so I stuffed it in my fishing rod case, and it pretty much stayed there for the rest of the year. And I brought it home with me at the end of the season.

KELLY: And we said the cork was visible on the ground when this bat did split in two. We should explain for non-baseball fans what cork does to a bat, why that would have been a problem for Sammy Sosa.

Mr. REMLINGER: Well, what I understand is, for one, you hollow out the center of the bat, and so that takes some weight out of the bat. And then, you replace that with cork, and they actually push cork down in there with wood glue so that it will be strong enough so that ideally it won't break and shatter apart like this one. This one didn't really splinter, and there wasn't cork laying on the ground. It was just they could see the cork inside the bat. And what that does is it basically gives the bat more bounce.

KELLY: And, I guess, if it's a lighter bat, you can swing faster, right?

Mr. REMLINGER: Swing a little bit quicker, yeah. I mean, I tried - I had a friend who had one in batting practice one time, and I tried hitting - to hit batting practice with it. I couldn't do anything with it.

KELLY: Why put it up for auction now?

Mr. REMLINGER: Part of it is financial and part of it is just it's something that I really don't care to have anymore. I don't have any of my memorabilia laying out. It's all stuff waiting in storage anyways. And this is something that I actually had reached out to Sammy last year and talked to an assistant of his, told him I had the bat half, and that I want to give it back to Sammy if he wanted it. And now, he told me that, yes, Sammy would like to have it. He's going to give you a call. And then, I never heard from him. And so I figured at that point in time, it was mine to do what I wanted with it. Financially, I've made a few bad decisions, and I'm a little short on cash, and it's something that I don't care to have anymore.

KELLY: Well, and bidding is under way. Do you have a figure in mind? What would you like to get for it?

Mr. REMLINGER: I don't - that's one of the problems we've had with this, really trying to figure what it's worth. I believe it's easily worth 15 to 20 grand, just from some personal interest that was expressed to me before the auction. You know, it's one of those things. It is one of a kind piece. And the years that I had it, the bat was in my apartment in Chicago, that any of my friends that were from the area, they'd all want to see it. So I think it would be a neat thing for a bar to have or a restaurant because I'm sure it would bring people to their location. And I feel like it's going to get more attention and more of a service to the public by being in someone else's hands than just sit in my closet.

KELLY: Well, thanks so much for talking to us about it.

Mr. REMLINGER: I appreciate it. And anybody interested can go to schulteauctions.com, and if they're interested in bidding, feel free.

KELLY: Great. That's former Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger, and the bidding on Sosa's bat ends October 31st.

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