LADY AT THE BAT: The Pine Tar Game: 24 Years Later

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Pine Tar Game: 24 Years Later

Twenty-four years ago today, the Kansas City Royals faced the Yankees in what came to be known as The Pine Tar Game. I was a nerdy college student that day in 1983, when I dragged my roommate Debbie, an international student from Jamaica with no knowledge of the game, to Yankee Stadium. We sat in one of the last rows of the upper-deck, behind home plate, and watched as George Brett hit his ninth-inning homer off "Goose" Gossage to give the Royals the lead.

All during the game I'd been explaining what was happening to Debbie. After Brett's home run, we watched as Yankee manager Billy Martin consulted with umpires at home plate. Suddenly the home run was disallowed! Everyone in the park began to cheer. Everyone, that is, except George Brett and the Royals. I'm sure everyone has seen the footage of Brett running out of the opposing dugout like an animal freed from a cage, a wild look on his face, veins bulging in his neck. Debbie looked at me for an explanation, but I had none to offer her. I found out when I got home that Billy The Kid had gotten the umpires to disallow the home run because there was "too much pine tar" on Brett's bat.

Later that week, the American League ruled that the home run would stand, and that the game was suspended. It was completed on August 18th, an off-day for both teams. A few fans showed up to see it, including me. (Yeah, I had no life back then.) I remember that they let fans sit anywhere, and I sat on the third base side, on the field level. It was crazy! The media was walking through the stands interviewing fans, asking them why they were there. A reporter named Chee Chee Williams who, I believe was with the local NBC affiliate at the time, stuck a mic in my face. Feeling like an idiot, I mumbled something about wanting to be a part of history. Right after that, a booming voice behind me said, "NBC! Clear the premises!" Team officials were clearing the stands of the media at that point. Honestly, there were more media in the stands than fans!

It's funny how the Yankees are playing the Royals 24 years to the day this infamous incident occurred. To commemorate the occasion, tonight the Royals are giving away Royals tee-shirts with pine tar stains on them. How cool is that? I would love to have one of them! However, unless I can get from the Bronx to KC by game time tonight, I can't count on it. Oh well, at least I have my memories.

The Lady

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