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Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sorry, George: Pine-tar tirade still big deal

Twenty-five years ago today, Kansas City legend Brett went wild over Yankee Stadium bat ruling

July 24, 2008

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New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, second from left, watches as umpire Tim McClelland uses home plate to measure pine tar on the bat of Kansas City's George Brett in this file photo from July 24, 1983. Brett used the bat to homer in the ninth inning, apparently giving the Royals the victory, but the bat was declared illegal.

New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, second from left, watches as umpire Tim McClelland uses home plate to measure pine tar on the bat of Kansas City's George Brett in this file photo from July 24, 1983. Brett used the bat to homer in the ninth inning, apparently giving the Royals the victory, but the bat was declared illegal.

— George Brett says he's surprised that people still make a big deal out of his 1983 "pine tar" home run at Yankee Stadium.

The Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer's ninth-inning blast was taken away after umpires ruled the pine tar on Brett's bat extended too far up the shaft. Brett erupted from the dugout in one of baseball's all-time tirades.

The Royals protested the call, it was later overturned, and the two teams finished the game weeks later. The Royals won, 5-4.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the incident, and Brett still can't believe that for all his years in baseball - he won batting titles in three different decades - the pine-tar at-bat is the one fans know best.

"I am so surprised that you play 20 years in the major leagues and you accomplish some things, and that's the one at-bat you're remembered for," Brett said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.

The July 24, 1983 game has added significance because it was played at Yankee Stadium, which is closing after this season to make way for a new ballpark. If the Royals' protest had failed, and they had not subsequently won the game later, Brett's drive would have gone down in history as the only game-losing home run.

"Only in New York. I think if it happens in Cleveland, it's not that big of a deal," Brett said. "I think if it happens someplace else that isn't New York, it's not that big of a deal."

With the Royals trailing 4-3, Brett hit the two-out, two-run homer off reliever Rich Gossage, who on Sunday will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Brett entered the hall in 1999.

After the blast, Yankees manager Billy Martin immediately protested. Plate umpire Tim McClelland agreed, nullified the home run and called Brett out.

A red-faced Brett charged after McClelland, his arms flailing as teammates forcibly held him back.

"We've had a lot of fun with this thing over the years," said Gossage, who joined the conference call. "Of course, at the time it wasn't fun. ... George was the maddest human being I've ever seen."

Brett said he's amazed at how angry he became after the call. He watches a tape of the game at least once a year with his sons.

"They don't want to watch the whole game," he said. "They just want to watch the aftermath of what happens when the umpire calls me out."

McClelland said Wednesday he "wasn't thinking anything" when Brett charged out of the dugout.

"I knew he wasn't going to hit me or run over me," McClelland said. "If he did I'd probably own the Kansas City Royals now."

Brett, now a vice president of baseball operations with the Royals, kept using the bat after the incident but eventually stopped and gave it to the Hall of Fame.

Comments

Royals 5 years, 9 months ago

Happy 25th anniversary pine tar day everyone.

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justforfun 5 years, 9 months ago

George's tirade one for the ages no doubt.How many of you remember a few years ago when Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with a pitch and Ventura stomed the mound only to get put in a side headlock by Ryan and get fist after fist to the face? Now that was some funny stuff.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 9 months ago

July, I believe ya. Checked your posts and see that your first post here was way back in January. So obviously, your moniker is not something that you came up with for today's anniversary. Good for you. I used to love the Royals. But with the last few crummy years, I am drifting away. Would love to see them perform like they did in their heyday. Frank White, Willie Wilson, Al Cowens, et. al. Now, those boys could play some ball.

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july241983 5 years, 9 months ago

Cato- I was wondering if anyone would notice. I've been using it as a user name in one place or another since I was about 16 (which was many years ago). I just love the Royals, and that is one of my all-time favorite moments.

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cato_the_elder 5 years, 9 months ago

TheSychophant: I don't know who called it on the radio, but presume it was Matthews and Fred White, who would have been the Royals' radio announcers at the time.July241983: Wow - you must be a real believer to have chosen that name. Pretty cool on your part.

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july241983 5 years, 9 months ago

I have to agree. George storming out of the dugout just showed how much passion those Royals teams played with. It is that kind of intensity that wins championships.

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fu7il3 5 years, 9 months ago

It's one of the most identifiable moments in baseball history. It is a big deal and always will be. It's one of those moments you just always think of.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 9 months ago

Cato, I didn't have the privilege to watch the game on TV, as I was in my car travelling between Lawrence and Kansas City at the time. But I was tuned in on the radio, and I still remember and cherish the announcer's call. Was it Denny Mathews?

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cato_the_elder 5 years, 9 months ago

One of my great baseball memories is having been privileged to watch the pine-tar incident in real time on TV that Sunday afternoon 25 years ago. The incident was a major factor in solidifying the instant replay system in everyone's mind. George was indeed hopping mad, and so were we - it was something like being in shock, which then turned to wanting to mobilize every Royals fan in the country and march on New York City. And boy, did we hate the Yankees during those great Royals years.

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