September 26, 2023

The Pine Tar Game

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Hey baseball fans!

A while back, I got the chance to interview Graig Nettles, a Yankee great and a member of the 300 home runs club. What I did not mention in that post was something he did that helped create one of the oddest, most interesting, and controversial moments not just in the history of baseball, but the history of sports. Familiar to all Yankees and Royals fans to this very day, the Pine Tar Game.

The Pine Tar Game occurred in a game played between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees on July 24, 1983 in the Bronx. Entering the ninth inning, the Yankees were up 4-3 thanks in part to RBIs from Don Baylor and Steve Kemp. With two outs and a runner on, Hall of FamerGeorge Brett of the Royals smacked a dramatic two-run home run off Yankees reliever and Hall of Famer, Goose Gossage, to give KC the lead. However, this was where Graig Nettles sneaky gesture came into play.

Before the game, Graig informed Yankees manager, Billy Martin, that Brett was using too much pine tar on his bat, allowing him to hit for more power. Considering Brett was a contact hitter, Martin went out to the umpires as soon as George hit the homer. After checking Brett’s bat and finding that there was too much pine tar on it, home plate umpire Tim McClelland pointed at the member of the 3,000 hits club and said possibly the two most famous words in baseball: “You’re out!” Brett came screaming out of the dugout, thinking that he should be awarded the homer and had to be restrained by his teammates and the umps. Meanwhile, the Yankees had won the game, 4-3, or so everyone thought.

After the game, the president of the American League, Lee MacPhail, overruled the umpires and said that the homer counted. The game resumed in the bottom of the ninth with the Yanks down 5-4 on August 18. They lost the game by that same score, with Dan Quisenberry getting New York to go 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth in one of the wackiest baseball games ever played.

When I interviewed Goose Gossage and asked him about this incident, he said to me that “Brett isn’t a bad guy.” However, he did say that “I hated him when I played against him.” Goose may be “acquaintances” with George, but the Hall of Fame Royal will never forget his signature moment. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

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