On the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Pine Tar game, Rush Limbaugh speaks of his time with the Kansas City Royals and George Brett's work ethic
"We're coming up on the 30th anniversary, July 24th will actually be the date, the 30th anniversary of the Pine Tar Game. George Brett and the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. It was a Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Goose Gossage, Yankees up 4-3, top of the ninth, Brett up, bam, two-run home run, Royals up, and you know what happened. The Yankees had been waiting to accuse Brett of using a bat, pine tar too high on the bat, a supposed violation of Major League Baseball rules.
I was working for the Royals when this happened. I was not on the trip. I was not there. I was like everybody back in Kansas City watching it on TV, but there's a lot more to this story than people know. The batboys for the visiting team are supplied by the home team. In this case, the batboy for the Royals was a Yankees fan. He was a 17-year-old kid, and the job of a batboy, among many other things, is at the crack of the bat, he runs out and grabs the bat, takes it back while play is taking place. You run out, you get the bat out of the way.
And in this case, the short version of the story is that Brett had a good relationship with this batboy, called him Spaulding. It was his nickname, 'cause he looked like a character in Caddyshack. And the kid, the batboy, a Yankees fan, Gaylord Perry in the Royals dugout was urging the batboy to hide the bat, put it with all the other bats so it couldn't be found. The batboy didn't. The bat was produced. It was taken out there, and Tim McClelland, the plate umpire, and the Yankees, and Billy Martin's out there, and Graig Nettles were looking at it. And finally McClelland points at the Royals dugout and points at Brett, says, "You're out, bat's illegal.' And just mayhem ensued....
The Royals appealed. The home run was not allowed, they lost the game. They appealed it and Lee McPhail, the president of the American League, ruled in the Royals favor, so they had to go back in and finish about an inning and a half or half inning and a half of the game to make it official, which the Royals ended up winning and it all ended well....
But that pine tar thing ended up overshadowing all of that and it's become a folklore incident in baseball. The Royals are in New York this week, and George had a press conference yesterday at four or five o'clock in the afternoon at the new Yankee Stadium to talk about it. He's now the hitting instructor in the Royals, just took that job a few weeks ago. But this pine tar bat incident was an incredible thing, and it's one of the things now that obviously George is known for in addition to being a Hall of Famer, third base, five hits short -- this is incredible. I've never seen, and I'm sure it's happened -- I have never seen an athlete own a city like George Brett owned Kansas City in 1980.
It was the first year for the World Series for the Royals, in Philadelphia, but George Brett was flirting with hitting .400, the first player to do that since Ted Williams, the Boston Sox. He came within five hits. I think his average at the end of the year was .390 and the Pine Tar Incident was three years later, but nevertheless it's become one of those folklore things. He had the press conference yesterday in New York to talk about it. We have just a little sound bite from it. The 30th anniversary, I can't believe it was 30 years ago. It's one of those things that seems like it all was just yesterday. But here's just a little bit of it, we have just like a 20 second sound bite of it:
BRETT: You know, that's what I'm known for. And it could be worse. I'm known for something positive, where Bill Buckner is known for something negative. Now I'm the pine tar guy. So it's really the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Thank you, Billy Martin; thank you, Graig Nettles. Still got a sore neck from Joe Brinkman's headlock, but it's getting better.
RUSH: So that was Brett talking about the Pine Tar Incident yesterday in New York....
Now, there's no way people would know this, but George Brett worked really hard. He had natural talent, obviously. George Brett was the first guy at the ballpark every afternoon for a night game. He'd show up at one o'clock or two o'clock for a seven o'clock start. He's out at batting practice, working on his hitting and everything. I don't care, it could be 110 degrees on the field, and he was out there doing it.
He worked extremely hard throughout his whole career. He put a lot into it, and he valued what he did."...
7/8/13, "Pine Tar: The Untold Story," Wall St. Journal, Daniel Barbarisi, "The bat boy tells his version of the pine-tar tale involving George Brett and the Yankees."
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