On July 24, 1983, one of the more memorable moments in baseball history took place at the old Yankee Stadium in a game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. It started out as your average mid-season baseball game until the 27th out.
With his team down 4-3 and two outs in the top half of the 9th, former Royal and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett cranked one deep to right field for a two-run shot, giving K.C. the 5-4 lead. However, as Brett rounded the bases and came home, then Yankees manager Billy Martin was out talking to the home plate umpire (Jackson, MI native and Michigan State graduate) Tim McClelland after he and some Yankee players noticed that Brett’s bat had more pine tar on his bat than normal, higher up the bat that is allowed.
George Brett loses mind after being accused of breaking rule
After a few minutes of convening, inspecting and measuring the bat across home plate, McClelland determined that Brett had violated MLB Rule 1.10(c) of the Major League Baseball rule book, which read that “a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle.” McClelland then pointed to Brett in the dugout and called him out, awarding the Yankees a victory.
That is when Brett blew a gasket.
The Royals eventually protested the game and the American League upheld it by then AL president Lee MacPhail. The game was eventually replayed 25 days later from that very point and the home run by Brett did count, with the Royals leading 5-4. Kansas City ended up earning the victory by the same score.
Because of Brett’s outburst towards McClelland, he was ejected from the remainder of the game. Royals manager Dick Howser and coach Rock Colavito both also were ejected for arguing with the umpires, as was Brett’s teammate Gaylord Perry; he gave Brett’s bat to the bat boy following the game in an effort to prevent the bat from facing further inspection from the AL offices.
There were a number of lasting effects of the incident. The Yankees originally refused to allow the game to be replayed, wanting to wait until the end of the season to see if there would be any ultimate postseason implications from the game itself. They also faced legal action regarding ticket sales for those who were non-season ticket holders. Also during the resumption of the game, the Yankees attempted to challenge if Brett actually touched the bases rounding home plate but the umpires, some of who were not present when the incident originally happened, ruled them safe thanks to a notarized affidavit signed by MacPhail and all four umpires present during the game.
The bat used in the incident can now be seen on display at the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.