Tag Archives: George Brett

november 18 in baseball history: BRETT FLIRTS WITH .400

NOVEMBER 18, 1980 | KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – This was an easy one. In 1980 Kansas City Royals’ 3rd baseman George Brett was the last American Leaguer since Ted Williams in the 1940’s to flirt with a .400 batting average since. So, who else but Brett should be awarded the American League’s Most Valuable Player award for that year?

Brett didn’t start out gang-busters in 1980. The first two months of the season his average hovered around .260 . As far into the season as May 22nd he was hitting only .255.

George Brett kicked it into gear in June and July, topping out at .390 July 31st. Brett eclipsed .400 (.401 to be exact) on August 17th, going 4 for 4 with 5 RBI.

Fans all over the country followed his march toward the first .400 average since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 for the Boston Red Sox.

Brett was hitting .406 on August 20th,  .407 on August 26th. Brett’s batting average was over .400 16 of the final 35 days  of the regular season, but not the last day. He finished the 1980 season with a .390 average with 24 home runs and 118 runs batted in.

Brett’s .390 remains the second highest batting average in the Major Leagues since 1941. Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994 for the San Diego Padres.

The highest averages since Brett and Gwynn are:

Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies who hit .379 in 1999, and Nomar Garciaparra  of the Boston Red Sox and Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies both hit .372 in 2000.

Will we ever see a .400 batting average again? The Cubs won the World Series in 2016, so anything is possible.

Contributing Sources:
Single season batting average leaders
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/batting_avg_season.shtml

The famous pine tar incident

July 24, 1983 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • Had you ever seen anyone so angry as George Brett when a home run of his was disallowed? The famous pine tar incident took place at Yankee Stadium on this date in 1983. You knew Yankee manager Billy Martin had to be involved.

Brett’s outburst was the culmination of a dramatic moment:

Two outs, top of the ninth, Kansas City Royals down 4-3 to the New York Yankees. Brett is facing Yankee closer Rich “Goose” Gossage. He hits a 2-run homer to give the Royals the lead.

After Brett circles the bases, Billy Martin marches out to home plate to ask the umpires to examine the bat. Turns out the pine tar, what batters use on the bat handle to improve the grip, extended more than the rules allowed (see below). Home plate umpire Tim McClelland places the bat on the ground next to home plate. When he sees that the pine tar is spread over more than 20 inches of the bat he signals, “Batter’s out!” Incensed, George Brett charges from the dugout to home plate. If Brett had been a fullback and it was 3rd and 9, he would have made the first down.

Brett, his manager, Dick Howser, and a couple other players were thrown out of the game. The Royals protested. The game was suspended. A few weeks later, American League President Lee MacPhail, former president of the Yankees, I might add, overruled the umpires. The home run was reinstated. Play was resumed on August 18th with two outs in the 9th, Royals up 5-4, and that’s how the game ended.

Years later, Brett said he was so furious that day because a home run off Hall of Famer Goose Gossage was so rare, he couldn’t handle it being taken away.

Note the “note” from MLB Official Rules:

Rule 1.10 (c) The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from its end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. Any such material or substance, which extends past the 18-inch limitation, shall cause the bat to be removed from the game. NOTE: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to (c) above until a time during or after which the bat has been used in play, it shall not be grounds for declaring the batter out, or ejected from the game.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
MLB Official rules
July 24, 1983 Royals-Yankees box score