January 25, 2015


MLB'S HISTORY OF ALTERED EQUIPMENT (Tracy Ringolsby, 1/25/15, Sports on Earth)

Bobby Valentine, when he managed the Rangers, accused the maintenance crew at the Metrodome of having a large fan behind home plate blow air toward the outfield when the Twins were batting. One game, he even tied ribbons to the screen in front of the fan to try and prove his point.

Valentine also was involved in an incident at Tiger Stadium with groundskeeper Frank Feneck over the "sandbox" around home plate, which Valentine claimed was softened to aid Tiger pitcher Doyle Alexander. Unhappy with Feneck's effort to correct the problem, Valentine grabbed a rake and began to work the dirt himself, which prompted a confrontation between the two men.

Tiger general manager Bill Lajoie, concerned a fight was going to break out, quickly called the pressbox and ordered public relations director Dan Ewald to "start the National Anthem now," seven minutes ahead of scheduled. It worked. The music started and the two men at home plate dropped their rakes and looked at the flag.


Hitters have had their moments, too. Several have been known for doctoring bats to help hit balls farther, including Albert Belle, who was suspended for 10 games for using a corked bat against the White Sox on July 15, 1994. Any hope of Belle appealing probably ended when it was discovered that after umpire Dave Phillips locked the bat in the umpire's room at Comiskey Park, Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley crawled through the ceiling to the umpire's room, dropped down and switched bats.

Tigers first baseman Norm Cash admitted after the 1961 season, in which he hit .364 with 41 home runs and 132 RBIs, that he used a corked bat. He even showed Sports Illustrated how to cork it.

Graig Nettles was suspended in 1974 when in the at-bat after hitting a home run, the bat came apart and six superballs flew across the infield. In the '70s, players were known to order unfinished bats, and there was a facility in Newport Beach, Calif., that would coat the bats with a substance made from super balls.

Posted by at January 25, 2015 8:14 AM

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