Pine Tar Incident
Everyone loves to see a person get really angry. It’s entertaining. But on 24 July 1983, with the Kansas City Royals playing the Yankees, Royal George Brett realized every kid’s dream of saving a game in the 9th inning by slamming a homer. It was a two-run bash that put the Royals up 5-4. As he crossed home and disappeared into the dugout, the home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, was alerted by Yankees manager Billy Martin that Brett’s bat might have more than 18 inches of pine tar on it, from the tip of the handle up.
More than 18 inches of any substance on the bat is a violation of the rules, and after several minutes of measuring the bat against the wide end of home plate, which is 17 inches, the three umpires agreed that Brett was in violation. McClelland then searched for him in the dugout, found him, and motioned that he was out. This is all televised and can be found on YouTube.
Brett immediately charged out of the dugout, so infuriated that his face was bright pink, bellowing profanity and raging at McClelland that he was going to kill him. The Royals manager, Dick Howser, and several of Brett’s teammates had to tackle him to keep him off McClelland, who also voided the home run and declared the game over and the Royals the losers.
A sports commentator quipped, “Brett has become the first player in history to hit a game-losing home run.” The Royals protested the ruling, and it was overturned because an illegal bat would necessitate the batter being called out, but that because pine tar did not assist the distance of a struck baseball, Brett’s home run would count. The game was ordered to be resumed from that point, and the Royals won, 5-4. Brett’s rampage did not exactly send a good message to his young fans.