The jersey Kansas City Royals great George Brett was wearing when he was called out after hitting a home run that wiped out the lead he had just given his team over the New York Yankees in what is known as “The Pine Tar Game” is among several items up for auction.
The Winter Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction by Heritage Auctions features Brett’s game-worn jersey, baseballs, a 2005 Lee MacPhail-signed letter regarding the ruling and a lot with multiple signed pieces from that day in 1983. The auction closes Feb. 22-23.
Here’s what Heritage Auctions says about the jersey:
“That otherwise inconsequential July 24, 1983 game at Yankee Stadium would prove to be George Brett's defining moment despite a World Championship, 13 All-Star Game appearances, three American League batting titles and a 1980 MVP Award. It likewise remains one of the most famous events in the entirety of post-war Major League Baseball history, that controversial lumber enshrined for eternity in the Baseball Hall of Fame, one of its most popular attractions.
“Since the bat itself is unavailable to the collecting community, the offered jersey will reign forever as the most significant and desirable relic from that contest within private hands. Certainly any garment from Brett's professional wardrobe carries enormous collecting intrigue, but this powder blue beauty is quite literally as good as it gets for the greatest figure in Royals franchise history.
“The style is the one most directly associated with that special era in KC, white tackle twill on powder blue, with ‘Royals 5’ on front giving way to ‘Brett 5’ on verso. Left sleeve provides the team logo patch. Lower left front tail is tagged ‘Wilson [size] 42’ above an ‘83’ embroidered year swatch. Brett autographs both sides in 9/10 black sharpie, the obverse notated, ‘Pine Tar Game, 7/24/83.’ Just to the right of Brett's signature, at the edge of the button path, we can spot a small pine tar stain, and the entire jersey is soft and supple from sweaty wear.
“The experts at Resolution Photomatching determined that no image from the Pine Tar Game was clear enough to provide a certain match, but they stress that it is consistent with those photos and can be matched to the July 30, 1983 visit to the Detroit Tigers six days later.”
The Royals were trailing the host Yankees 4-3 with two outs in the ninth inning when Brett hit a two-run home run. But Yankees manager Billy Martin complained to rookie home plate umpire Tim McClelland about the pine tar on Brett’s bat going too far up the handle. The umpire nullified the home run and called Brett out, prompting the Royals star to have a royal meltdown. An outraged Brett charged McClelland and needed to be restrained by Royals manager Dick Howser.
The Royals protested the game and American League president Lee MacPhail upheld it, ordering the game to be continued from the point of the home run. The Royals wound up holding on for the victory.
The jersey is expected to fetch more than $100,000. MacPhail’s letter, apparently to an inquiring fan, had an estimated value of $600 or more.