On this day 30 years ago, July 24, 1983, Kansas City and New York played a seemingly normal game for eight innings at Yankee Stadium.
But the top of the ninth featured one of the most bizarre incidents in baseball history.
In case you don’t remember, Royals third baseman George Brett hit a go-ahead home run off Yankees closer Goose Gossage. As he was rounding the bases, Yankees manager Billy Martin emerged from the dugout to argue that Brett used an illegal bat because the pine tar was too close to the barrel.
After measuring the bat for the amount of pine tar, home plate umpire Tim McClelland pointed at Brett in the dugout and called him out, ending the game and giving the Yankees an apparent 4-3 win.
George Brett just having a friendly conversation with home plate umpire Tim McClelland.
An enraged Brett ran from the dugout and had to be physically restrained by umpire Joe Brinkman. The Royals played the game under protest and AL president Lee MacPhail eventually upheld the protest by stating the illegal bat “did not violate the spirit of the rules.”
So on Aug. 18, 25 days after the game started, the game was resumed with two outs in the top of the ninth. The Royals eventually completed a 5-4 win after closer Dan Quisenberry pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth.
Now there are a lot of players in the league today who either don’t remember or were not born when the Pine Tar Game occurred. These players could chat with one of the following players from the game who are still involved in organized baseball:
Kansas City Royals
UL Washington – SS – It was Washington’s two-out single in the top of the ninth off reliever Dale Murray that brought Brett to the plate. He is currently a coach with the Single-A Greenville (SC) Drive, an affiliate of the Red Sox.
George Brett – 3B – Brett’s home run was his third hit of the game. It continued a trend of being a Yankee-killer. Brett hit 22 home runs at Yankee Stadium, including five in the postseason. He currently serves as the Royals hitting coach.
John Wathan – 1B/LF – Wathan scored two of the Royals five runs. He was Kansas City manager from 1987 to 1991 and the Angels interim manager in 1992. Currently, Wathan is a Royals Special Assistant to Player Development.
Leon Roberts – LF – Roberts finished with a pair of hits and threw out Dave Winfield at second base. He currently coaches with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Houston Astros AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.
Willie Aikens – PH/1B – Aikens flied out in a pinch-hitting appearance. He now coaches with the Royals Arizona League club.
Joe Simpson – LF – Simpson played left field for the bottom of the ninth in the resumption of the game on Aug. 18. Since 1992, he has been a color commentator for Atlanta Braves broadcasts.
Frank White – 2B – White finished with a pair of RBI and also told Brett the umpires were measuring for illegal pine tar use just before the Royals third baseman went crazy. He is the first base coach for the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent Northern League.
Bud Black – SP – Black started the game and allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings. He was in line for the loss before Brett’s home run gave Kansas City the lead. Since 2007, he has been the Padres manager.
New York Yankees
Butch Wynegar – C – Wynegar entered the game in the top of the ninth in the Aug. 18 resumed game. He is still with the Yankees organization as the hitting coach for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders.
Don Mattingly – 1B/2B – Mattingly pinch-hit for first baseman Steve Balboni in the seventh inning. When the game resumed on Aug. 18, he moved to second base, which had to be the only time in his career Mattingly played that position. Mattingly was 0-for-2 with a pair of flyouts. Since 2011, Mattingly has been the Dodgers manager. His rookie sensation, Yasiel Puig, was born seven years after the Pine Tar Game in 1990.
George Frazier – RP – Twenty-five days after the game started, Frazier relieved Gossage on Aug. 18 with two outs in the top of the ninth. He struck out Hal MacRae to end the inning. Frazier is currently in his 15th season as a Colorado Rockies color commentator.