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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belle Snags Lighter Sentence for Light Bat

NEW YORK -- The corked bat caper involving Albert Belle has finally come to a close.


The Cleveland Indians slugger had his 10-day suspension cut to a six-day penalty Friday by American League President Bobby Brown. As part of the settlement, the Major League Baseball Players Association withdrew its appeal of the punishment.


The suspension was set to start Monday, meaning Belle will miss seven games because of a doubleheader in Boston on Aug. 6. It marks the fourth straight year Belle has been suspended by Major League Baseball.


Belle showed the Indians what they will miss when he homered Friday night at Yankee Stadium. He went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs in Cleveland's 5-2 loss to New York.


Belle is batting .356 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 96 RBI. His hitting, including eight homers in his last 11 games, has helped keep the Indians close to the AL Central Division lead.


The controversy began July 15 when Belle's bat was confiscated by umpires in Chicago after White Sox manager Gene Lamont wanted it checked. The bat disappeared from the umpires' locked dressing room and later was returned by the Indians. When it was cut open by league officials, it was found to contain cork.


"I have never used or knowingly attempted to use a corked bat in a game," he said.


Bats must be made of solid wood.


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It was like no other ceremony ever held at the Hall of Fame. Phil Rizzuto took over Cooperstown, New York, at 4:07 p.m. Sunday and held the town in the palm of his small hand for the next 31 minutes. There would be tears, but they were not shed in the usual manner.


So often these are among the most poignant moments in life for the inductees. And it was no less for Rizzuto. But he decided to handle his acceptance speech the way he knows best. And that is to make people laugh. Do it often enough and you have tears shining in the eyes of glistening faces.


That would be Rizzuto's audience as he weaved through his 54 years with the New York Yankees. Some of his stories would even be about baseball. But not all that many. This was a man sharing the joys of a rich and full life.


Rizzuto was summoned to the podium after Ed Stack, the chairman of the Hall of Fame, handled the plaque presentations for Steve Carlton, the left-hander who won 329 games, and the late and great manager Leo Durocher. Accepting for Durocher was former actress Laraine Day, the third of his four wives, and Chris Durocher, their adopted son.


There had been concern about Rizzuto's health. At 76, he still has bountiful energy. But he did have to quit a Saturday golf round on the seventh hole. "He got dizzy," said playing partner Rusty Staub. "He kept walking over to sign autographs for the fans by the sides of holes, and he was just trying to do too much to keep people happy."


But very little was wrong with Rizzuto on Sunday -- only his voice, a hoarse version of its usual self. No script, pure Rizzuto. "My whole life has been baseball," he said. "Without Al Kuhnitz, my high school baseball coach, teaching me how to bunt, I never would have made it to the big leagues. I tried to run a snowblower and cut off a finger. If I open the refrigerator, and it is not in front of me, I don't know what I'm looking for." (AP, Newsday)