Listed among the bats used by Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe in an upcoming Leland's auction is Lot No. 1038. It's a bat that Pete Rose supposedly used to hit his second-to-last career home run.
Authenticators say it shows all the signs of a Rose-used bat. It's the same Mizuno model he used, personalized with "PR 4192," a reference to his assault on Ty Cobb's hit record. And the bat is sanded on the barrel, something that knowledgeable Rose collectors say he did to make sure he was making contact with the ball on the ideal part of the wood.
Leland's is selling it as a Rose, game-used bat. The auction house is also marketing it as a corked bat. According to company president Mike Heffner, there is a nickel-sized hole at the end of the bat. Thanks to the paint chipping off, a plug can be seen with remnants of either cork or putty filling.
Heffner said the bat was originally purchased from Rose and has passed through many owners since 1985, so what has happened to the bat over the last 20 years is unknown.
"It was definitely tampered with," said Heffner, who would not disclose the bat's current owner. "I guess you could always say that someone did this after Pete used it, but it's clear that the corking wasn't something that was done recently." In his job, Heffner has seen his share of corked bats as well as Pete Rose signatures.
We all knew Pete was a gamer who'd do anything to win. I've also read that he was a notorious greenie user. It's looking like he was a cheat through and through, which is a shame but not exactly shocking.
Something about Pete's type of personality ... all the qualities that made him a brilliant baseball player seem to have also made him a scumbag of a human being. It's a shame.