Who is George Brett?
George Brett is an American born Baseball player who was born on May 15, 1953, in West Virginia. He was the youngest of 4 brothers whom all loved playing baseball. Brett started playing baseball when he schooled at El Segundo High School. During this period, he used to play baseball with pitcher Scott McGregor.
8/12/1980: Close-up of George Brett, Kansas City Royals’ third baseman.
The 6-foot tall former baseball player currently has a net worth of $15 million. Brett loves animals, and he is actively involved in PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaigns.
The Legendary Third Baseman
George Brett started his professional career playing as a shortstop in mini-leagues like Rookie-level Pioneer league and Class-A California league. He was soon shifted to third base because of his inability to go his right defensively.
KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 18: George Brett of the Kansas City Royals bats during World Series game four between the Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies on October 18, 1980 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Phillies 5-3. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Playing as a third baseman paid off as he had a powerful arm. He also played at that position for more than 15 years. On August 2, 1973, Brett was promoted to the major league where he played with Kansas City Royals. Throughout his career, he totaled a batting average of .305, 3,154 hits, and 317 home runs. In 1980, Brett played his first match in the World Series against Philadelphia Phillies. His team lost the game. Brett later retired in the 1993 season.
In 1975, Brett was awarded Kansas City Royals Player of the Year. In the following year, he also received Kansas City Royals Player of the Year and Silver Bat Award (Bud Hillerich Award).
In 1979, Brett won the Baseball Digest Player of the Year Award and Kansas City Royals Player of the Year. 1980 was an excellent year for him also, as he bagged the Baseball Digest Player of the Year Award, Hutch Award, Kansas City Royals Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player Award, Player of the Month Award, Silver Bat Award (Bud Hillerich Award), Sporting News Major League Player of the Year Award, and Sporting News Player of the Year Award. Brett also received the Player of the Month Award in 1982 and 1983.Brett was also awarded the Kansas City Royals Player of the Year and Slocum Award in 1992 and 1994 respectively.
The Pine Tar Incident
Despite George Brett’s decade-long career as an elite baseball player, most people remember him for the Pine Tar Incident which happened on July 24, 1983. The Pine Tar Incident took place during an American League Baseball game played between Brett’s team – the Kansas City Royals, and New York Yankees. Playing at the Yankee Stadium in New York City, the Royals were trailing 4–3 in the top half of the ninth inning, with two outs.
(Original Caption) 7/24/1983: George Brett argues with the umpires who ruled out his two-run homer after an examination of his bat showed that the pine tar had exceeded the allowable area.
However, before the start of the game, Yankees manager, Billy Martin, had noticed that Brett’s bat had more pine tar than was permissible. As Brett crossed the plate, Martin requested that the umpires examine his bat. After the umpires discussed the situation and did some measurements, they concluded the bat violated Rule 1.10(c), and that the pine tar on Brett’s bat exceeded the amount allowed by rule.
Brett’s Reaction to the Pine Tar Ruling
Of course, Brett was not happy with the umpires’ ruling. The rookie home plate umpire, Tim McClelland searched for Brett in the visitors’ dugout, pointed at him with the bat, and signaled that he was ejected from the game. Brett’s home run was invalid, and he was ejected from the game for hitting an illegally batted ball.
Royals’ George Brett charges at umpire Tim McClelland (R) who is holding his bat, after the umpires ruled the bat illegal nullifying his two-run homer in the ninth inning of game 7/24. At left is Royals manager Dick Howser. The Yankees won 4-3.
An enraged Brett stormed out of the dugout to confront McClelland and had to be physically restrained by his manager Dick Howser, several of his teammates and umpire Joe Brinkman. Despite the furious protests of Brett and Howser, McClelland’s ruling stood. As Brett was the third out in the ninth inning with the home team in the lead, the game ended with a Yankees win.
The Royals Protest and Reversal of the Ruling
After the game, the Kansas City Royals filed a protest with the American League against the outcome of the game. American League president, Lee MacPhail, ruled that although Brett broke the rules, Brett’s home run should have counted. MacPhail ordered that the game should be continued from the point of Brett’s home run.
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 28, 1983: American League President Lee MacPhail, holding George Brett’s ‘pine tar’ bat, overrules his umpires on July 28, 1983 and upholds a protest by the Kansas City Royals declaring Brett’s two run homer 7/24/83 against the New York Yankees was valid. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
However, Brett remained ejected from the game following his outburst against umpire McClelland. Coach Rocky Colavito Manager and Dick Howser were also ejected for quarreling with the umpires, and the Royals pitcher Gaylord Perry was also ejected for trying to hide Brett’s bat in the clubhouse. On August 18, both teams returned to Yankee Stadium, and the game ended with a 5-4 win for the Royals.
The Aftermath of the Pine Tar Incident
Till this day, George Brett is remembered for the pine tar incident. The same bat Brett used for the game on July 24, 1983, is presently on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it has been there since 1987. During a Mike & Mike in the Morning broadcast, ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian said that Brett played a few games with the bat after the incident until he was warned that the bat would become worthless if broken. Brett initially sold the bat to the famed collector and the then part owner of the Yankees, Barry Halper, for $25,000.
CANADA – OCTOBER 17: Doused in glory suds: Royals’ George Brett, who was named most valuable player in the American League pennant series, gets the full champagne treatment from his ecstatic teammates who won it all last night by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh game of the series. (Photo by Jeff Goode/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
He later repurchased the bat for the exact amount from Halper and donated the bat to the Hall of Fame. Brett’s home run ball was sold to Halper by journalist Ephraim Schwartz for $500 and 12 Yankees tickets.
After Brett’s Retirement
After his retirement, George Brett was elected as the vice-president of Kansas City Royals and at the same time, worked as a part-time coach. In 1999, Brett inducted the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2008 and 2009, he was honored with the Frank Slocum Big B.A.T. Award.
He was also inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Though the Pine Tar Incident may not be legacy Brett had envisaged for his career, he still sees the event as a positive one nonetheless. In other words, it’s cool with Brett if you remember him for the Pine Tar Incident.