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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Enraged Brett, Royals win "Pine Tar" protest
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

July 24, 1983

For the first time in major league history, a contest seemingly ends with a player hitting a game-losing homer. The Kansas City Royals are trailing the Yankees, 4-3, with two outs in the ninth when George Brett bangs a drive off Goose Gossage into the Yankee Stadium seats for an apparent two-run homer.

But Yankees manager Billy Martin protests, claiming Brett is using an illegal bat because it has too much pine tar on it. In the dugout, Brett is laughing at the sticky situation. But then, home-plate umpire Tim McClelland upholds Martin's point of view and calls Brett out for having the more than 18 inches of pine tar that is legal, giving the Yankees an apparent 4-3 victory.

The call drives Brett batty, and the enraged player charges out of the dugout. It appears as if he might run over McClelland, but umpire Joe Brinkman restrains him. Brett rants and raves ("I've never been that mad in my whole life"), but the umpires don't change their decision.

Four days later, American League president Lee MacPhail will uphold the Royals' protest. He says that Brett's homer counts because the bat was not "altered to improve the distance factor." The game will be resumed on August 18 and the Royals complete the 5-4 victory.

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