Thursday, April 29, 2004

H & B brings Joe D. bat home

Enquirer news services

The bat used by New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio when his record 56-game hitting streak ended in 1941 is returning to the city where it was made.

Hillerich & Bradsby, manufacturer of Louisville Sluggers, paid $345,500 for the bat at an auction and plans to display it at the company's museum in Louisville.

"We probably sold it to the (Yankees) for about 10 bucks back then," president John Hillerich said. "We paid a pretty hefty price to get it back."

Hillerich said the bat is the last of three DiMaggio used during his hitting streak, which remains the longest in major-league history.

DiMaggio, who died in 1999 at the age of 84, gave the bat to teammate Tommy Henrich a week after the hitting streak ended in Cleveland on July 17, 1941.

Henrich put the bat in the attic of his mother's home in Ohio, where it remained until his daughter found it earlier this year.

"It's the Holy Grail of bats," Hillerich said. "There was no way we weren't going to bid on it."

INDIANS: Outfielder Milton Bradley has taken a few final swings at the Cleveland Indians, saving his best cuts for manager Eric Wedge.

The talented but temperamental Bradley, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month after a series of run-ins with Wedge, harshly criticized his former manager and team in this week's Sports Illustrated.

"It was like a sinking ship," Bradley said of the Indians, "and I was glad to get my life raft and get my second chance over here. The right people aren't in charge there, and I'm not the only person on that team who feels this way. There are a lot of unhappy people over there, just working for a paycheck."

Bradley said he liked playing for Indians's fans, but not for Wedge.

"It was strictly a problem with Eric Wedge," Bradley told SI.

Wedge was not available for comment before Cleveland's game in Chicago Wednesday.

SHORT HOPS: Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was scratched from the Tigers' lineup Wednesday with a finger injury.

• Anaheim placed outfielder Garret Anderson on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 22, with upper back stiffness.

• Florida Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez and Philadelphia Phillies catcher Todd Pratt each drew three-game suspensions for a brawl last week.

• San Francisco second baseman Ray Durham was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee injury.

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