It was 25 years ago today…

Doubt grows in LA
Yanks sign seventh rounder

…that George Brett and pinetar become indelibly linked in the collective baseball memory of our country. Tyler Kepner profiles the infamous incident. I enjoyed Kepner’s piece because, while I know the story behind the pine tar brouhaha, I was nearly four months old at the time and don’t remember it all that well. As a sidebar, Kepern checks in on the bat as well.

Doubt grows in LA
Yanks sign seventh rounder
  • Axl

    Haha. 4 months eh? I think I was 6 months to the T? Christmas Eve of 82.

    Never knew it was that long ago though, thought it was mid 80’s.


    • radnom

      2008 – 25 = 1983

      not too far off

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Picture it… New York City, 1983…

    A brash, 30 year old tow-headed manchild ballplayer meets a hulk of authority personified in a button-up shirt with a patch on his chest. The ballplayer had fallen passionately in love with a sticky substance called pine tar, and the umpire would have none of it.

    That ballplayer was George Brett, and that umpire… was Pablo Picasso.

    • ceciguante

      wow, tsjc, that is some serious pop culture crossover right there. nicely done.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos

        If she hadn’t just died, I woulda never remembered it to pull it out of nowhere.

  • GoYankees

    Kepner …
    the Yankees’ Thurman Munson had been called out for having pine tar higher than 18 inches from the knob of his bat. …
    American League president, Lee MacPhail, who overturned McClelland’s call based on the spirit of the rule, which was repealed after the season. …
    “We’ve got to rule on the letter of the law, and the letter said that we should call him out,” McClelland said.

    At the time there was quite a bit more to the story then these revisionist histories tell. The pine tar rule was not there to protect the poor cheating batter (Brett) from his own pine tar. It was in effect because ANY foreign substance on the bat was banned. A bat with pine tar was against the rules of the game, and as we all know, baseball is a game of rules. Brett cheated and his punishment should have been upheld. Period.

    To most Yankees fans this incident was seen as another example of blatant anti-Yankees sentiment coming from the office of the Commissioner of Baseball. The Yankees have too much money, the Yankees win too much, let’s favor the little guy, even if the price is the integrity of the game.

    Baseball is not immune to corruption and fixed games. This was just another higher level, better camouflaged instance.

    That was the story behind the story, and not the storied cutsie version with the bat in the Hall of Fame. In ten years we’ll have performance enhancing substances there too, with a wax likeness of you-know-who telling an amusing story.

  • ceciguante

    man, i’ll never forget the look on brett’s face as he was sitting there in the dugout, smiling and breathing heavily after rounding the bases with what he thought was the game saving homer off the goose. mcclelland pointed into the dugout, raised his fits to make the out call, and brett’s eyes just went crazy with shock and rage. he tore out of that dugout ready to murder. it was so cool, crafty billy martin seemingly outsmarted the superhuman george brett and stole a win without ever touching the ball. a great, unforgettable baseball moment.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      A little tiny bit of Rob Neyer died on that day…