Uncorking mystery of who swiped Belle's bat in '94


BOSTON -- It has lingered as one of baseball's greatest unsolved mysteries, and the mystery resurfaced this week after Albert Belle's bat again was confiscated because of suspicion of corking: Who, in 1994, was responsible for swiping Belle's corked bat from the umpires' dressing room in Chicago?

Well, the mystery is solved: According to baseball sources, pitcher Jason Grimsley was the player who crawled on his belly, lifted the tiles over the umpires' dressing room, climbed in and removed Belle's bat.

The incident began when Chicago manager Gene Lamont challenged the legality of Belle's bat, and umpire Dave Phillips had the bat removed to the umpires' dressing room. Grimsley, knowing that Belle's bat was corked, scouted the layout of the various offices in Comiskey Park.

Then, with a vague blueprint in his mind, he climbed to the crawl space over the visitors' clubhouse with a flashlight.

Grimsley finally found the umpires' dressing room, climbed down and replaced Belle's bat with one that belonged to Paul Sorrento; Belle did not own one bat that wasn't corked.

The Indians thought Phillips would laugh off the incident, verbally slap manager Mike Hargrove on the wrist. But the next day, the umpire called a news conference to announce that Belle's bat had been stolen and that the perpetrator had to be nabbed.

A flashlight Grimsley left behind was found. The Indians, realizing the incident had blown up in their faces, returned the bat, and Belle was suspended.

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