Originally written on The Other Paper  |  Last updated 5/3/13

Mickey Mantle was a baseball hero to a whole generation of New York Yankees fans young and old. Nothing — not even any of The Mick's off-the-field escapades, surly disposition or flawed personal life choices — could put a damper on any of the slugger's 536 career home runs that brought so much joy to so many. Now a corked bat — reportedly swung by the Yankees icon is hitting the auction block — could raise some eyebrows about the Hall of Famer's legacy. And it's for sale. Grey Flannel Auctions is auctioning the doctored Hillerich & Bradsby Co. bat, which was studied by PSA/DNA authenticator John Taube. Taube noticed alterations at the top of the bat’s barrel, and X-rays showed that the barrel had been drilled and filled with cork. “This is the first corked bat of Mantle that we have seen or heard of,” Taube wrote in his report. Part of the bat’s handle is coated in pine tar, a characteristic seen on other Mantle bats from the 1960s. Mantle wasn't the first player to swing a doctored bat. Players have been known to add cork and other substances to bats to improve swing speed, all in hopes of adding extra power to their swings. But doctoring bats is illegal and this a man with three AL MVP's to his credit. Embarrassing, too. Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa was suspended for eight games in 2003 after his bat shattered during a game, sending pieces of cork flying. Last month, a game-used Pete Rose bat that also featured a hidden cork panel sold for $8,000 at auction. Mantle played 18 years with the Yankees and helped the team win seven World Series championships. His name alone still evokes memories of tattered first mitts, summer days and brings tears to many grown men's eyes. You'll need $5,000 to reserve an opening bid.

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