This Month Marks the 30th Anniversary of MLB’s Bizarre and Controversial “Pine Tar Game” (Videos)
Baseball has a long history and an arcane set of rules and codes, and there have been a lot of bizarre and controversial games over the years as a result. However, none have been more bizarre and controversial than the infamous Pine Tar Game. And it just so happens that July 24 will mark the 30th anniversary of that game.
Now, if you happen to be under the age of, say, 35, you might not be familiar with that game, so let me get you up to speed. It’s July 24, 1983. The Royals, who don’t suck, are in the Bronx taking on the Yankees. In the top of the 9th, with the home team up by a score of 4-3, Hall of Famer George Brett comes to the plate to face Hall of Famer Goose Gossage with two outs and a man on second. The result? Home run to right field, Royals take the lead 5-4…but not really.
Earlier in the game, Yankees manager Billy Martin had noticed that there was probably more pine tar on Brett’s bat than was allowed by MLB Rule 1.10(c), and he was waiting until Brett did something big to call him on it. So after the home run, Martin ran out and told the umpiring crew about the violation. They nullified the home run and called Brett out. Game over, Yankee win.
Brett went apesh*t. But here is the really crazy part: the Royals appealed the decision to American League President Les McPhail and, based on a previous ruling he’d made back in 1975, he reversed the call. Thus, on August 18, 1983, the game resumed from where it had left off—Royals on top 5-4, two outs in the top of the 9th.
Here’s a nice little feature about the game:
And here is George Brett sitting down with the media recently to share his recollection of that controversial game 30 years later:
If you’re like me, this is the sort of absurd, ridiculous thing that makes you love baseball.