George Brett and the Pine Tar Game

One of the wonderful charms of YouTube is the old footage being made available again, often to brand-new audiences. Below is video of a crazed George Brett charging the umpire during the "Pine Tar Game" on July 24, 1983. Brett had just put the Kansas City Royals ahead with a two-out, ninth-inning home run off Yankees closer Rich Gossage. Yankees manager Billy Martin approached the home plate umpire to ask that the spread of sticky pine tar on Brett's bat be measured to see if it violated Rule 1.10(b), which forbids any substance more than eighteen inches up the handle. Martin had known for weeks that Brett's pine tar was illegal. but waited until the right moment to use his knowledge. When the umpire nullified the home run and called Brett out, the game ended with the Yankees winning.

American League President Lee MacPhail later overruled the umpire, restored the home run and had the teams replay the end of the game a month later. Both teams traveled to Yankee Stadium on an off-day. The replay took twelve minutes (and sixteen pitches) and was delayed by Martin's appeal that Brett had not touched all the bases. A different umpire crew was on hand, but they possessed a signed affidavit from the earlier umpires saying that Brett had indeed stepped on every base. Martin was ejected from the replay, and Brett wasn't there either. He stayed on the team plane playing cards. Brett later told the Hall of Fame that the pine tar incident "was the greatest thing that ever happened in my career."

Hat tip to Blue Notes

August 26, 2006 10:39 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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