Saturday, December 17, 2005
Updated: December 18, 10:31 PM ET
Company that submitted winning bid will cut up bat
By Darren Rovell
A bat purportedly used by Pete Rose sold on Saturday for more than $100,000 -- surpassing its auction estimate by more than tenfold.
A Rose autograph on the bat associated the piece of wood with the hit king's 159th home run, but the true jump in the bidding is believed to be a result of the auction house, Leland's, marketing it as a corked bat.
The bat was purchased for $103,631 by online gambling site GoldenPalace.com, which has a reputation for buying unique auction items.
"We love Pete Rose, we have nothing against him and are amazed by his accomplishments," said Drew Black, a marketing representative for the site, "but we think this is a terrific opportunity to show this bat to the world."
Black said the company plans to saw the bat to reveal its contents on either a live television show or at a news conference. If it is corked, Black said the company might cut it into pieces and sell it off for charity.
Officials with Leland's say the bat has a nickel-sized hole at the end of it, and that chipped paint reveals a cork or putty filling.
There was no evidence at the time that Rose's bat was corked when he hit the home run. A Major League Baseball spokesman told ESPN.com that the league has never had any evidence that Rose corked his bats.
Rose hit 160 career home runs, but only two in his final 1,509 at-bats. In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine in August 2001, Tommy Gioiosa, a former friend of the hit king, alleged, among other things, that Rose used a corked bat.
Gioiosa told ESPN.com last month that he was positive that Rose used a corked bat when he was closing in on the all-time hit record.
"It wasn't about home runs," Gioiosa said last month. "It helped him get that snap to hit line drives out of the infield."
Rose, whose eligibility for the Hall of Fame is expiring (and his chances of eventually getting voted in by the veterans committee appear to be remote), has denied that he corked his bats.
Along with purchasing (for $28,000) a grilled cheese that bears the supposed image of the Virgin Mary's face, and an individual Doritos chip (for $1,209) that looks like the pope's mitre, the gambling site has been fairly active in the sports world. For four years, it has been putting temporary tattoos on the backs of boxers.
The site recently paid $51,500 for the helmet that NASCAR driver Robby Gordon threw at Michael Waltrip during a race; put up $1,150 to put a tattoo advertising the site on the arm of professional arm wrestler Brent Norris; and bought a game-used ball from England's loss in the Euro 2004 tournament for $35,000.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org.