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George Brett's pine tar incident turns 25 years old today

Big League Stew

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He won a World Series, was inducted into the Hall of Fame and got a case of the hemorrhoids at the worst possible time. Still, George Brett is best known for his wonderfully bad-ass reaction to "The Pine Tar Incident," (video) which happened at Yankee Stadium on this day a quarter-century ago. As one might imagine, a number of newspapers marked the anniversary with an article.

Here are the best excerpts from a few of them:

Sam Mellinger, KC Star: It was 25 years ago today that Brett used his overly pine-tarred bat to hit a home run in the ninth inning off Gossage. You know the rest of the story. The Yankees pointed out that Brett's bat had too much pine tar on it, the umpires agreed, nullified the home run and set off one of the all-time ticked-off reactions in the history of sport.

Brett's sons occasionally ask to see the videotape. They don't care about the game or the homer. They just want to see their old man go nuts — a YouTube moment before there was such a thing.

Tim Kurkijan, ESPN: ... Brett acknowledges that his bat was illegal, and putting too much pine tar on it was an "oversight" on his part. He says, without anger or bitterness, that, "I played 20 years in the major leagues, I did some good things, and the one at-bat I'm remembered for is an at-bat in July, not an at-bat in October like Reggie Jackson. Only in New York. It would have never been that big a deal if it had happened in Cleveland. Me against Goose made it a big deal. Billy being there made it a big deal. Something like this can only happen in New York."

Rob Neyer, ESPN Insider: ... When Brett was called out for having too much pine tar on his bat, he exploded from the dugout looking for all the world like he'd just contracted a severe case of temporary insanity. When you watch the clip, it's easy to think that if Brett hadn't been held back he might have taken umpire Tim McClelland apart.

Lisa Kennelly, The Star-Ledger: (Tim) McClelland, now a veteran ump [ ... ] was in his rookie season back in 1983. He said he doesn't remember what he thought as the enraged Brett ran for him. "I knew he wasn't going to hit me or run over me," McClelland said before yesterday's game. "And if he did, I'd probably own the Kansas City Royals right now."

Tyler Kepner, NYT Bats Blog: (The bat) did not get to Cooperstown directly. Brett first sold the bat to collector Barry Halper for $25,000. Realizing it should go to the Hall instead, Brett got it back from Halper six months later for the same $25,000 price. In thanks, he gave Halper the bat he used to hit three homers in a 1978 playoff game."


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