The broken bat that Roger Clemens infamously threw at Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series is up for auction.
Former Yankees strength coach Jeff Mangold said he took the broken bat home after the game that October night and now, more than 13 years later, has decided to sell it.
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“I’ve had it for 13 years, mainly in the office here at the house,” said Mangold, of Oakland, N.J. “It’s time for it to move on.”
The leading bid, as of Thursday morning, was $5,078.78, according to the listing on the website of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. The auction is scheduled to end Feb. 22.
That piece of Piazza's bat -- a sawed-off barrel of a Mizuno Pro model featuring the engraved words "MIKE PIAZZA" -- was at the center of one of the oddest scenes in New York sports history that's still talked about to this day.
In the top of the first inning of Game 2, Piazza stepped into the batter's box and faced Clemens for the first time since the Yankees righthander hit him in the head with a fastball three months earlier.
The highly anticipated matchup turned downright weird when the Mets catcher broke his bat fouling off a pitch, sending the ball into the Yankees dugout and the barrel of the bat bouncing in the direction of the pitcher's mound.
Clemens fielded the bat on its second bounce and immediately flung it in the direction of Piazza, who had just left the batter's box and was jogging down the first-base line.
Piazza then walked to the mound, asking Clemens what his problem was. Clemens said he thought the bat was the ball. By then the benches were cleared, but there was no fight. (In his memoir published last year, Piazza wrote that he regretted not fighting Clemens that night.)
Mangold said he watched the bizarre scene unfold from the dugout, where he watched every game. He said he wasn’t among those who stepped onto the field because he didn’t want to run afoul of Major League Baseball rules for non-uniformed officials.
Mangold doesn’t think Clemens intentionally threw the bat at Piazza.
“He just fired that thing, instinctively, like ‘get it out of here,’” Mangold said. “It was a heat of the moment decision, just very reactionary. It was a strange setting, a strange circumstance, almost like a boxer still throwing a punch after the bell rings.”
Lost amid the chaos that ensued was what happened to the barrel of the bat. Mangold said it took a few tumbles toward the Yankees dugout before getting stuck in the grass.
“It was stuck in the ground, and there’s still Yankee Stadium dirt in the bat,” he said.
Once the players returned to their respective dugouts, Mangold said a Yankees batboy picked up the bat and took it to the home dugout to be thrown out, as is protocol.
“There’s an area where broken bats are collected and discarded after the game,” he said.
But once the game was over, Mangold decided that bat was too significant of a momento to simply be tossed in the trash. So he picked it up and brought it home, where it’s been ever since.
Over the years he’s done Google searches on the bat, just to see if anyone ever wondered what happened to it. But there was never was any talk, much to his surprise.
“There was no mention of it, just no mention of it at all,” Mangold said. “Just a handful of friends of mine know about it. I wasn’t out to show it off or anything. It was just something that was known among our family. Very strange, for all these years, nobody ever mentioned. The Hall of Fame never inquired about it. No one did.”
But now that Mangold has two kids in college and another planning to go in a year, he said it was time to sell it to help off-set the education costs.
Mangold also plans to donate some of the money to the CJ Foundation for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), a foundation that’s close to him because he lost a daughter at just 2 1/2 months old in 1991.
He was the strength coach for the Yankees from 1984-88 and again from 1998-2006 and for the Mets from 1993-96.
Mangold always enjoyed the uniqueness of the bat, as it’s a one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia. Certainly it’s the only time a brawl nearly happened in the World Series after a pitcher threw a broken bat in the direction of the hitter. But he’s ready to sell it.
Said Mangold, “Having it for 13 years is enough.”