Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...
, a corked bat
is a specially modified baseball bat
A baseball bat is a smooth wooden or metal club used in the game of baseball to hit the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. It is no more than 2.75 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches in length. It typically weighs no more than 33 ounces , but it...
that has been filled with cork
Cork is an impermeable, buoyant material, a prime-subset of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber , which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa...
or other lighter, less dense substances to make the bat lighter without losing much power. A lighter bat gives a hitter a quicker swing and may improve the hitter's timing. However, since the bat is lighter, the ball does not necessarily travel farther than with a heavier bat, or if it does, it is usually only by a few feet at most. In Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...
, modifying a bat with foreign substances and using it in play is illegal and subject to ejection and further punishment.
To modify a wooden bat to a corked bat, a hole approximately 1/2-inch in diameter is drilled down through the thick end of the bat roughly six inches deep. Crushed cork, bouncy ball
A bouncy ball, power ball or super ball is a popular polybutadiene rubber toy ball which rebounds proportionally to the amount of force used when thrown at a hard surface. The first such ball was the proprietary Super Ball. The Sky Ball is an example of another bouncy ball...
, sawdust, or other similar material is compacted into the hole and the end is typically patched up with glue and sawdust. Placing cork beyond roughly six inches into the bat threatens the bat's structural integrity and makes it more susceptible to breakage. Corked bats breaking while in play during games is the most typical way that their use is discovered.
Using a corked bat in Major League Baseball is in violation of Rule 6.06 (d), which reads in full:
A batter is out for illegal action when:
(d) He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire's judgment, has been altered or tampered with in such a way to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball. This includes, bats that are filled, flat surfaced, nailed, hollowed, grooved or covered with a substance such as paraffin, wax, etc. No advancement on the bases will be allowed and any out or outs made during a play shall stand. In addition to being called out, the player shall be ejected from the game and may be subject to additional penalties as determined by his League Punishment advisor.
Since , six players have been caught using corked bats. The following table summarizes these events:
| Sammy Sosa
Samuel Peralta "Sammy" Sosa is a Dominican former professional baseball right fielder. Sosa played with four Major League Baseball teams over his career which spanned from 1989-2007....
| Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. They are one of two Major League clubs based in Chicago . The Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of the National...
| June 3, 2003
|| Eight games
|| Corked bat
| Wilton Guerrero
Wilton Alvaro Guerrero is a former second baseman in Major League Baseball. He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers , Montreal Expos , Cincinnati Reds , and Kansas City Royals ....
| Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...
| June 1, 1997
|| Eight games
|| Corked bat
| Chris Sabo
Christopher Andrew Sabo is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Cincinnati Reds , Baltimore Orioles , Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals . At 6'0" and 180 lb , he batted and threw right-handed...
| Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....
| July 29, 1996
|| Seven games; Reds fined $25,000
|| Rubber balls in bat
| Albert Belle
Albert Jojuan Belle is a former American Major League Baseball outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles...
| Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Since , they have played in Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona...
| July 15, 1994
The 1994 Cleveland Indians corked bat incident took place on July 15, 1994 at Comiskey Park in Chicago during a major league baseball game. In the first inning of the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox, White Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped off that Indians batter...
| Seven games
|| Corked bat
| Billy Hatcher
William Augustus Hatcher is a former left and center fielder in Major League Baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers, and former first base coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays...
| Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are a Major League Baseball team located in Houston, Texas. They are a member of the National League Central division. The Astros are expected to join the American League West division in 2013. Since , they have played their home games at Minute Maid Park, known as Enron Field...
| August 31, 1987
|| Ten days
|| Corked bat
| Graig Nettles
Graig Nettles , nicknamed "Puff", is a former Major League Baseball third baseman. During a 22-year baseball career, he played for the Minnesota Twins , Cleveland Indians , New York Yankees , San Diego Padres , Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos .Nettles was one of the best...
| New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...
| September 7, 1974
|| Ten days
|| Six super balls in bat
In addition, former player and Major League manager Phil Garner
Philip Mason Garner is a former infielder in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants from 1973 to 1988...
admitted in January 2010 on a Houston radio station that he used a corked bat against Gaylord Perry
Gaylord Jackson Perry is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He pitched from 1962-1983 for eight different teams in his career. During a 22-year baseball career, Perry compiled 314 wins, 3,534 strikeouts, and a 3.11 earned run average...
and "hit a home run" with it.
According to the MythBusters
MythBusters is a science entertainment TV program created and produced by Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. The series is screened by numerous international broadcasters, including Discovery Channel Australia, Discovery Channel Latin America, Discovery Channel Canada, Quest...
August 8, 2007 baseball special, the ball hit by a corked bat travels at only half the speed of a ball hit by an unmodified bat, causing it to go a shorter distance. The cork inside the bat actually absorbs the kinetic energy like a sponge, hindering the batter's performance. In addition, because corked bats are lighter, they have less mass to transfer force into the ball, bringing them to the conclusion that the use of a corked bat had fewer benefits over a regular bat. The show also notes that while filling a bat with cork makes it lighter, there is nothing in the rule book that prevents a player from simply using a lighter uncorked bat.