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Case closed

Grimsley confesses to switching Belle's corked bat

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Posted: Sunday April 11, 1999 01:56 PM

  The name's Grimsley, Jason Grimsley: The former Cleveland pitcher entered the umpires' locker room through a crawl space. Andy Lyons/Allsport

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jason Grimsley has finally come clean.

The pitcher was the one who crawled through the bowels of Comiskey Park five years ago to replace the corked bat of teammate Albert Belle that was being held in the umpires' room.

The confession by Grimsley, then with the Cleveland Indians and now with the New York Yankees, was reported Sunday in The New York Times, clearing up one of baseball's ongoing mysteries.

"That was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've ever experienced," Grimsley said of his tale, which was widely known around baseball but never previously admitted to by the pitcher.

"I went skydiving once, and I can compare it to that," Grimsley said before Sunday's game between the Yankees and Detroit.

Good news for Grimsley, too: No disciplinary action is expected.

"I regard it as history," said AL president Gene Budig, at Yankee Stadium to present the Yankees with their World Series championship rings.

In the first inning of a Cleveland-Chicago game on July 15, 1994, White Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped off that Belle, then with the Indians, had a corked bat.

Lamont challenged the use of the bat and umpire Dave Phillips took it and put it in his locker. The Indians panicked, knowing the bat was indeed corked.

Grimsley, 6-foot-3 and a slim 180 pounds, volunteered for the mission to get it back and replace it with a clean bat.

The Times reported that he took a cork-free bat belonging to Paul Sorrento -- all of Belle's bats were corked. Grimsley said he knew there was an escape hatch in the ceiling in the clubhouse and figured there was one as well in the umpires' dressing room.

With the help of an unidentified Indians' employee, he navigated his way to the spot. Crawling on his belly, a flashlight in his mouth, he finally found it, dropped down on a refrigerator and swiped the bat from Phillips' locker.

"My heart was going 1,000 miles a second," Grimsley told the Times. "I just rolled the dice, a crapshoot."

After the game, the umpires immediately suspected foul play -- the bat, after all, bore Sorrento's name. The American League even spoke of bringing in the FBI.

Finally, the Indians were told that if they supplied Belle's bat there would be no punishment for the switch. Belle received a 10-game suspension that was reduced to seven games on appeal.

Related information
Fantasy Insider: Playing for keepers
Yankees 1999 Pitching Stats
Orioles 1999 Batting Stats
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