Everybody remembers the “Pine Tar Game” of 1983 involving George Brett, Billy Martin and umpire Tim McClelland, but here’s a story about another bat with pine tar that you probably haven’t heard about.
Some time ago, Brett, the Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer, gave former teammate Mike Boddicker one of the last bats Brett had ever used in a game before retiring after the 1993 season.
A while later, though we’re not sure how much longer, Boddicker approached Brett with the bat and asked him to sign it.
The story was revealed on the MLB Network on May 15 when Brett was interviewed to celebrate his 67th birthday and 50th year with the Royals.
“I was looking at it, and this bat is 10 times worse (than the famed pine tar bat),” Brett revealed to MLB Network, showing that bat, which was 10 times worse. “The pine tar on this is just caked on. You can see my fingerprints on it.
“He wanted me to sign it and I got it in my hands and I’m going, ‘Oh my God, this is unbelievable.’ I don’t have any game-used bats of mine. So I’m sitting there looking at it, I’m going, ‘Oh my God,’ and he says, ‘Well, if you want to keep it, keep it.’ I said, ‘How about this, I’ll make a trade.’
“Every year when we go to Cooperstown, all the Hall of Fame players sign a bat and then they mail you one shortly after you get home. I had a Hall of Fame bat here from about three or four years ago, I had 60 Hall of Fame signatures on it. I said, ‘Here, I’ll trade you.’ He said, ‘You got a deal.’”
And with that, one of the most unique trades of sports memorabilia history was consummated.
Naturally the interview with Brett included a discussion about the “Pine Tar Game,” which he singled out as being one of the top three games of his to recommend people watch “because it showed my desire to win.”
In the game at Yankee Stadium, Brett hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. As he rounded the bases, Yankees manager Billy Martin went to the plate to complain about the overuse of pine tar on Brett’s bat. By the end of the discussion, Brett was back in the dugout.
“I think I was sitting next to Frank White and he said, ‘They might call you out for using too much pine tar,’” Brett explained to MLB Network. “And I swear to God, I just got out of my mouth, ‘If they call me out for using too much pine tar on a bat, a rule I’ve never heard of, I’ll run out there and kill one of those SOBs.’ As soon as I said that, McClelland turns and is looking for me in the dugout and said, ‘You’re out.’ I don’t even think I hit the steps (on his way out of the dugout).”
Which led to the meeting at the plate that can be seen in the accompanying photo.
The game thus ended with a 4-3 Yankees victory as Brett was the final out in the ninth. But 25 days later, after American League president Lee MacPhail upheld KC’s protest, the game was replayed from Brett’s home run, and the Royals won, 5-4.
Dave Strege is Editor of SCD. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.