George Brett prefers Pine Tar to Hemorrhoids
Posted by athomeatfenway on March 26, 2013
When July 24 arrives this summer with it should come 30th anniversary remembrances of the Pine Tar game.
Talk about a different world.
George ruled the roost. Billy was the skipper. Berra, trim and bespectacled, coached at 1st base. Don Zimmer’s corpulent form was poured into pinstripes as he stood in the 3rd base coach’s box.
These were the Yankees of Winfield, Nettles, Piniella and Rags. They were destined to go 91 – 71 and finish 3rd, 7 games behind Baltimore and 6 behind the Kitty Kats.
These were the Royals of Brett, Wilson, White, U.L., Hal McRae and 44 year old Gaylord Perry in his final tour of duty. KC would finish under .500 at 79 – 93, good for 2nd place and 20 games behind the Pale Hose.
Haven’t at least 34,000 different people told you that they were at the Pine Tar game? Some of them were kidding. 33,944 was the official count.
It was a scrappy game played by two teams that had faced each other in the ALCS 4 times in 8 years. With George holding a grudge that he hadn’t won all 4.
It was a scrappy game, as I said.
KC scratched out one run in the second on a Frank White ground out. NYY answered with a Winfield solo shot in the bottom of the 2nd. Frank White got his 2nd RBI in the 4th on a single. White and Slaught hit back to back triples in the 6th for a 3 to 1 KC lead in the 6th. Baylor tripled in Campaneris and Piniella, and then Winfield singled in Baylor all in the bottom of the 6th. Yankees 4, Royals 3.
Thus, with the Yankees ahead by 1 run with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, George Brett did turn on a shoulder high fastball thrown dead red from the hand of Rich Gossage and Mr. Brett did blister a high line drive that landed 10 rows deep in the sunny right field grandstand. It was a laser.
Beautiful. KC takes the lead.
Oh, but then Billy Martin acted on something 3rd baseman Graig Nettles told him before the game. Nettles had told Billy that Thurman Munson had once been called out in a game for placing pine tar too far up his bat, and that Brett’s bat looked just like it. Nettles suggested Martin use the rule against Brett should he hurt the Yanks with a big hit that day.
The rest is history.
It was a unique year for the Yankees. They played .562 ball and finished 3rd. Winfield killed a seagull in Toronto and was arrested. Righetti no hit Boston but was converted to a closer. Martin gets Brett called out on a technicality and gets reversed.
There were also some peculiarities to the Pine Tar TV broadcast.
Bill White and Frank Messer started the broadcast. White was replaced by Rizzutto in the middle innings. Bobby Murcer, who had been driven from the playing field to duty in the booth by George, took Skooter’s place in the 6th and finished the game with Messer.
Early on, White asked Messer if he thought Lou Piniella would someday manage in the bigs. Messer said, “No, he won’t manage. Lou says he doesn’t want to stick around the game after he retires.” Of course, Lou went on to manage for 23 seasons with the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs.
At another point, White comments on U.L. Washington’s cleats: “U.L. is wearing New Balance baseball shoes. You don’t see a lot of those. They do make a fine sneaker, though.” Today, Miguel Cabrera, CJ Wilson and Curtis Granderson are web-site poster boys for New Balance, a dominant brand.
Skooter had his Skooter moments, too. When someone noted the misty weather conditions, he said it reminded him of that Johnny Mathis tune. When Bert Campaneris got an infield single, Skooter exclaimed, “Campanella beats it out ! Hey, did I just say Campanella ?” When a Bobby Murcer Day was mentioned, Skooter asked that somebody please give Murcer a solid gold spittoon for his Skoal shots on his day.
When Bud Black began to unravel somewhat in the 6th, Messer observed that “This young man does not have a complete game in 11 starts this year….he may have a history of running out of gas.” Maybe so. He would go on to have 3 CG’s in ’83, far below Ron Guidry’s league leading 21. It was a different world. 3 CG’s in 2012 would have been a top 5 performance in the A.L..
Wondrously, ironically, baby faced Don Mattingly, getting just his 100th career plate appearance in this game, prompted Bobby Murcer to say, “He’s a good defensive first baseman. He likes it in Columbus (the minors) but he knows the majors are the place to be.” Bobby did not recall that Mattingly had a .332 BA in 5 minor league seasons, I guess. He had a glove….and a stick.
Credit Murcer with seeing the protest coming. After Messer’s call of Brett’s pine tar home run….”Uh Oh! Uh Oh! It’s gone !”, Murcer immediately explained that Martin was telling the umpires that Brett had broken a rule and could be called out, and he explained why. Bobby was on the money. And as it turns out, George Brett should have been called out.
Murcer concluded the broadcast saying, “You know, Frank, you and I may have been a part of history today. I just talked to some people with 50 years in the game and they’ve never seen anything like this.”
Amen, Bobby Mucer. May you rest in peace, brother.
Today, George Brett says he’s happy for the entire incident. “Instead of being remembered as the guy with hemorrhoids in the 1980 World Series, I’m the guy with the pine tar bat. I’ll take it.”