Newest Mallard Gary Coleman gets tossed for using corked bat
Madison, WI – August 1, 2008. Fresh off signing a contract with the Madison Mallards just minutes prior to Friday night’s game, former Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman strolled confidently to home plate, raised his left arm, and proceeded to call his own shot, ala Babe Ruth during the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field. Little did he know how short his night would be.
However, on this night, the ball didn’t exit over the outfield wall for a home run. In fact, the ball never left Eau Claire Express starting pitcher Evan Ellison’s left hand.
Before a pitch was thrown, Eau Claire Manager Dale Varsho noticed from the first-base dugout that Coleman’s bat had pine tar well past the legal limit and shouted for the attention of home plate umpire Jack Herbert. Herbert then appropriately took the bat from Coleman’s hands and laid it down beside home plate and confirmed that the amount of pine tar used was indeed illegal.
Coleman, who was mic’d during the at-bat, calmly replied to over 5,000 onlookers, “Well, can’t we just wipe it off?”
Herbert wasn’t so forgiving.
With the bat in-hand, he then noticed a black rubber stopper extending out from the top of Coleman’s bat and gave it a tug– only to have a half-dozen “super balls” fall onto the dirt below.
That’s when the real show began. Herbert ejected Coleman saying “Looks like you’re going to have a short night, you’re out of here!”
The 4’8″ Coleman began leaping into the air, bumping chests with Herbert in a sight that will be talked about amongst Mallards fans for many years to come. The crowd erupted as the former child star continued to plead his case, stating that the umpire’s comment about his night being “short” was a low-blow directed at his lack of height.
Like a seasoned veteran playing in his last game, Coleman, smiling ear to ear, then raised both arms and waved goodbye to the cheering crowd. Chants of “Gary” could be heard as he made his way back to the dugout and high-fived his laughing Mallards teammates. He was disappointed that he didn’t get to show off the “different strokes” Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke worked with him on prior to the game.
Although his at-bat was brief, Coleman stated that he enjoyed every minute and even said he would like to come back to Madison one day and see more of the city.
But for now, he’s just happy he didn’t have to face a 90 mile-an-hour fastball from Ellison.
“I told the guys before I batted that I was going to leave all of the hitting to them,” said Coleman. I’m just ecstatic that I made it out of the batter’s box alive.”
Footage of Coleman signing a contract and his first at-bat as a Madison Mallard can be found by clicking on the links below: