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In new book, Vizquel says Belle corked all his bats

Posted: Friday April 26, 2002 1:41 PM
Updated: Friday April 26, 2002 10:04 PM
  Albert Belle In his new book, Omar Vizquel takes a few swings at former teammate Albert Belle. Otto Greule/Allsport

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Omar Vizquel uncorked some of those old stories about Albert Belle's infamous bats.

And Albert isn't happy about it.

In his new autobiography, Omar! My Life On and Off The Field, Vizquel, the Indians' Gold Glove shortstop, reveals that Belle, his Cleveland teammate from 1994-96, used corked bats.

Vizquel talks about Belle, who retired from baseball last season with a debilitating hip injury, and covers a host of other topics in the book, co-written by Akron Beacon Journal reporter Bob Dyer.

Vizquel opens Chapter 10, entitled, "Albert and Other Clubhouse Characters", by saying, "I didn't hate Albert Belle. But he was certainly a difficult guy to like."

Vizquel recalls the July 15, 1994, game at Chicago's Comiskey Park in which Belle's bat was confiscated after White Sox manager Gene Lamont questioned its legality.

When umpire Dave Phillips asked the Indians to give him the bat Lamont wanted to inspect, Vizquel says in his book that Cleveland's bench didn't know what to do.

"Guys were saying, 'Oh my God! The bat is corked!'" Vizquel said. "My response was, 'What?' I felt a little bit like the way I felt when I first heard the true identity of the Tooth Fairy.

"I can be naive at times, but I'm not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to steal Albert's corked bat and replace it with one that looked completely different -- one that was autographed by Paul Sorrento. That wasn't even a nice try.

"The problem, of course, was that all of Albert's bats were corked."

After Belle's bat was taken away, an Indians pitcher crawled through the space above the drop-ceiling from the visitors' dressing room to the umpires' room, and replaced Belle's illegal bat with one signed by Sorrento.

The umpires were not fooled, and the Indians were forced to return the original bat, cork and all.

Belle, who lives in Arizona, went on Jim Rome's nationally syndicated radio talk show on Thursday to counter Vizquel's claims and insist that he was innocent.

"No, I never used a corked bat," Belle said. "... And if I was using cork, don't you think I would have hit 60 or 70 homers in a season? If all my bats were corked, how come they haven't surfaced? A lot of my bats were lifted from my locker.

"Don't you think all the people who hated me over the course of the my career would have gone out of their way to steal one of my corked bats?"

Belle, who hit a career-high 50 homers in 1995, took a few swings at Vizquel, too.

"I'm sure he didn't really like me, so he's not going to say nice things about me," Belle said. "He must not have had anything to write about. He sure doesn't have enough interesting things to write about from his career."

Belle was fined in 1994 for using a corked bat, just one of the slugger's numerous headline-making moments during a turbulent career shortened by injury.

Vizquel is the first player go into detail about his former teammate's deception.

"Albert knows where I am coming from," he said Thursday following the Indians' game against Chicago. "He got into trouble a few years ago. It happened a long time ago, and I thought it was OK to talk about it."


 
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