Brett Goes Crazy
NEW YORK CITY
JULY 24, 1983
– Had you ever seen anyone so angry as George Brett when a home run of his was disallowed?
The famous pine tar incident took place at Yankee Stadium on this date in 1983. You knew Yankee manager Billy Martin had to be involved.
Brett’s outburst was the culmination of a dramatic moment – two outs, top of the ninth, Royals down 4-3. Brett is facing Yankee closer Rich “Goose” Gossage. He hits a 2-run homer to give the Royals the lead. After Brett circles the bases, Billy Martin marches out to home plate to ask the umpires to examine the bat. Turns out the pine tar, what batters use on the bat handle to allow for a better grip, extended more than the rules allowed. Home plate umpire Tim McClelland places the bat on the ground next to home plate. When he sees that the pine tar is spread over more than 20 inches of the bat he signals, “batter's out!” George Brett charges from the dugout to home plate. If it was 3rd and 9 and Brett was a fullback, he would have gotten the first down.
Brett, his manager, Dick Howser and a couple other players were thrown out of the game. The Royals protested. The game was suspended. A few weeks later, American League President Lee MacPhail, former president of the Yankees, I might add, overruled the umpires. The homerun was reinstated. Play was resumed on August 18th with two outs in the 9th, Royals up 5-4, and that’s how the game ended. Years later, Brett said he was so furious that day because a home run off Goose Gossage was so rare, he couldn’t handle it being taken away.
From the official rules. Note the “Note.”
(c) The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from its end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. Any such material or substance, which extends past the 18 inch limitation, shall cause the bat to be removed from the game. NOTE: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to (c) above until a time during or after which the bat has been used in play, it shall not be grounds for declaring the batter out, or ejected from the game.