A video of the Royal Unleashed documents a momentous moment in major league history.
The clip shows George Brett charging out of the canoe at Yankee Stadium, veins sticking out of his neck, furiously trying to reach home plate umpire Tim McClelland. It was July 24, 1983 and the referee had just called Brett for having too much pine tar on his bat, canceling a two-run homer in the ninth inning by Goose Gossage that had given the Royals a 5-4 lead. .
Filip Bondy, in his 2015 book, The pine tar game, quotes Brett’s reaction.
“I just lost him,” Brett said. “I looked like my dad chasing me after I brought my report card home.”
Or, as Yankees TV analyst Bobby Murcer observed, “He’s gone mad. “
The Royals would appeal the ruling, as the referee’s appeal resulted in a 4-3 loss. Kansas City won their appeal and play resumed on August 18. The Royals won the game, but the memory of the Pine Tar Game came to life.
The bat with the pine tar resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the powder blue Heritage Auctions road jersey says Brett wore that day is still available to collectors and will be featured in the Heritage Auctions Winter Platinum Night Sports Collectibles catalog auction.
The two-day sale begins February 22.
Resolution Photomatching, a Seattle-based company, determined that no image from the Pine Tar Game was clear enough to provide some match. However, company officials said the jersey, made of white versus powder blue twill, matches photos from a game played on July 30 in Detroit.
The company has provided a “Photomatch Letter” for collectors concerned with authenticity. A successful photo match, the company said, was made based on “loose and frayed threads” on the custom stitched lettering and patch on the front and left sleeve of the jersey. Resolution officials said they viewed several photos to determine the match, noting that “a benchmarking was conducted to confirm that these characteristics are unique to this specific jersey.”
Heritage Auctions also provided a letter of authenticity.
The jersey is autographed on both sides by Brett in a 9/10 black Sharpie. The autograph on the front of the jersey is accompanied by the phrase “Pine Tar Game, 7/24/83”.
Brett, now 66, won a World Series with the Royals in 1985 and three American League beats.championships, flirting with .400 when he hit .390 in 1980. With batting titles in 1976 and 1990, Brett became the first player to win batting titles in three different decades. He appeared in 13 All-Star Games and was the American League MVP in 1980.
Yet they are eclipsed by an otherwise meaningless game in the Bronx in the summer of 1983.
“My protests kind of made him famous,” Brett said – to put it mildly – in an interview marking the game’s 30th anniversary in 2013.
“I think I’ve totally lost my mind,” Brett said after McClelland called him. “Because I didn’t… when I saw the video, I was amazed at my reaction.
“I had no idea what I had done.”
About this bat: Brett said he sold it to collector Barry Halper for $ 25,000, but then changed his mind. He offered Halper the money and a bat he used to hit three home runs on Catfish Hunter, and Halper returned the bat. Brett then shipped the Pine Tar Bat to Cooperstown.
The jersey is one of the many Pine Tar Game items offered in this sale by Heritage Auctions. Other items that will be on the block include Brett’s hometown baseball hit, signed by him and Gossage; the baseball used for the final when the game resumed on August 18, signed by reliever Dan Quisenberry and catchis John Wathan; a letter signed by AL President Lee MacPhail explaining the reasoning behind his decision which mandated the game to continue; and various documents and letters related to the incident.
Brett and Gossage never spoke to each other during their careers, but they broke the ice in 1995. In Bondy’s book, he tells how the two Hall of Famers laughed at the past.
The Yankees and Royals were playing an exhibition game in Florida at the Kansas City spring training site in Baseball City, and Gossage messaged Brett through a clubhouse boy, asking have a bat on display at his new restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After Brett agreed, Gossage sent another message: he wanted the bat to be “all asphalt”. Brett was more than happy to oblige, and a friendship was born.
The bat will always be a part of baseball lore, but Brett’s uniform is certainly a curiosity and should generate some interest in February.