Now you can own a piece of baseball history. Former Cub Mike Remlinger said Tuesday that he is auctioning off the broken barrel of the corked bat Sammy Sosa used in a 2003 game, a story first reported by ESPN Chicago. Remlinger picked up the bat shortly after the incident, and he put it up for sale via Schulte Auctions at the start of October.
Sosa, a seven-time All-Star and seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner who finished his career with 609 home runs, sheared his bat into two pieces during an at-bat in the first inning of a game against Tampa Bay on June 3, 2003, and pieces of cork were sprayed all over the infield by the impact.
Sosa was ejected, and he subsequently served a seven-game suspension. Major League Baseball examined 75 of the bats in his personal collection at the time, and all of them were found to be clean. Sosa, one of just two National League players to reach 160 RBIs in a season, played two more years after the broken-bat incident.
Remlinger, who picked up the bat in an effort to protect his teammate, believes the auction could top $15,000 before the bidding ends Oct. 31. He took to the radio airwaves Tuesday to publicize the auction.
"There's enough crazy Cubs fans out there that if somebody has a collection, be it Harry Caray's Restaurant or one of the bigger bars in the area or just someone who has a personal collection, it's definitely a great item to talk about," Remlinger said Tuesday as part of "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.
Remlinger said he was surprised to learn that his teammate had been using an altered bat, but he still reacted as quickly as he could to protect Sosa. Remlinger, who had been in the bullpen during the at-bat, said he saw the broken bat sticking out from a bag on the floor of the tunnel that leads from the clubhouse to the dugout.
"I saw it there and figured the umpires and the league might be looking for it," he said. "And it wouldn't be any help to him or our team if they found it, so I picked it up and brought it into the clubhouse. ... I had a fishing rod case in my locker, and I just put it in there and covered it up with a couple of towels and left it in there. It was there for the rest of the year until I brought it home."
Sosa claimed at the time that the bat was just for use in batting practice and that he had mistakenly taken it into a game with him. Remlinger made an attempt to give Sosa back his property, but the ex-teammates weren't able to coordinate. Sosa expressed interest in having the bat back through an intermediary, but Remlinger said he never came to claim it.
"At that point in time I was just going to give it to Sammy, because I figured it was his to do with what he wanted. Then, when I didn't hear back from him, I figured it was mine to do with what I wanted. ... What happened with that bat happened, and I don't see how having that bat in the hands of somebody in the public makes it any worse for Sammy or anybody else involved in it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.