Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, has purchased Sammy Sosa’s infamous corked bat at auction from former Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger for $14,407. The final cost, after a $2,160 bidder’s commission to Schulte Auctions, totals $16,567. The historic bat will be placed on display at Harry Caray’s on Kinzie beginning Thursday, November 4. Sometime next week, the bat will move to the Chicago Sports Museum inside Harry Caray’s Tavern, Navy Pier alongside numerous other unique pieces of Chicago sports memorabilia.
The museum showcases items including the exploded remains of the Infamous Cubs Foul Ball, which was also purchased by DePorter for $113,824 in 2003, the baseball Kerry Wood used in the historic 20 strike-out game against the Houston Astros in 1998, Starlin Castro’s game used batting gloves which set the MLB record for the most RBI’s in a major league debut (6), Orlando Palmeiro’s bat used to make the last out in the White Sox 2005 World Series championship game, as well as Paul Konerko’s grand slam ball from the 2005 World Series. “This bat is unquestionably a unique piece of Chicago sports history,” says Grant DePorter, “and is a perfect fit for our Museum collection.”
The corked bat splintered when Sosa hit a ground ball out to second base during the first inning of the June 3, 2003 Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays game at Wrigley Field. Sosa was ejected from the game, and the incident marked the beginning of the end for Sosa’s career. DePorter himself made news the day after the incident when he took a bat used by Sosa during his historic 1998 home run record chase to the hospital for an x-ray to check if that bat was corked as well. Luckily for Sosa, it was deemed “cork-free” by the radiologist. That 1998 bat (which was given to DePorter by Yosh Kawano, former beloved Cubs clubhouse manager) will also be placed on display at Harry’s alongside the corked bat.