Sweeny: 30 Years Later, Pine Tar Game Still Sticking To George Brett
By Sweeny Murti
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Thirty years ago today, at old Yankee Stadium, we saw one of the strangest endings in baseball history.
For a refresher course on the Pine Tar Game, check out this video from MLB Network produced last year.
George Brett, now the hitting coach with the Royals, has spent nearly every day of the last 30 years it would seem discussing his mad dash. When the Royals visited the new Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, Brett spoke about it at length as the 30th anniversary neared.
Here are some of the highlights…
Brett’s initial reaction to the incident was that it was not that big of a deal:
When Brett first saw the umpires looking at his bat, he thought they were checking to see if it was corked:
For being such a great player, Brett had — prior to the Pine Tar Game — gained his greatest national attention for an ill-timed case of hemorrhoids during the 1980 World Series. So how often do people come up to Brett and mention the Pine Tar Game?
During his press conference, Brett mentioned a few times how he was known for a controversial home run. I corrected Brett to tell him he is known for his psychotic reaction, not necessarily the home run:
The Pine Tar Game is usually stapled to the top of Brett’s resume. I asked him if it bothered him at all to be remembered for that more than his .390 batting average and MVP season in 1980, his batting titles, and all his other accomplishments that got him to the Hall of Fame, not just his famously sticky bat:
While many people from Graig Nettles to Don Zimmer to the late Billy Martin have taken credit for being the ones to point out the pine tar riding up Brett’s bat, I heard this tale a few weeks ago from then-Yankees backup catcher Butch Wynegar, now the hitting coach for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton:
The legend of the Pine Tar Game. It continues to grow, thirty years later.
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