Baseball historians recently discovered 53 of Babe Ruth’s bats and found that all of them were corked. Twenty-one of the bats were labeled as being used in the seasons of 1930, 1931, and 1932. The remaining bats had no date markings.
A cork sample taken from one of Ruth’s 1931 baseball bats.
Corked bats are illegal in professional baseball because cork reduces the bat’s weight and shifts the center of mass to the bat’s handle. The result is a faster swing with little to no reduction in hitting power. Naturally, this helps batters send the ball farther.
What will remain a mystery for the foreseeable future is knowing when Babe Ruth used the bats. The obvious time now in question is Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot.” This famous moment in baseball history took place in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series between the Yankees and Cubs. Ruth was facing a 2-2 count when he pointed out to center field as if to tell everyone where the next pitch would end up. The next pitch was a curveball, and it was launched deep past the center field wall.
Lou Gehrig, one of Ruth’s teammates, said, “What do you think of the nerve of that big monkey. Imagine the guy calling his shot and getting away with it.” Gehrig was remarking, along with many others, at the unusual confidence Ruth displayed during that at-bat. The unusual confidence could be because he knew he had an advantage with the corked bat.
Several of Babe Ruth’s baseball bats from historic moments are on display, but they will never be analyzed for fear of damaging the valuable artifacts. With a lifetime .342 batting average and .609 slugging percentage, Ruth’s abilities as a baseball player are undeniable despite the use of corked baseball bats. Just how great he really was, we’ll never know.
All-Time Major League Baseball Homerun Hitters
1. *Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. *Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. *Sammy Sosa 609