Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baseball Memory: 25 Years Ago Today, July 24, 1983

Dateline: Yankee Stadium, New York

Game: Kansas City Royals verus the New York Yankees

Top of the 9th, the Kansas City Royals down one run with two out and runner, U.L. Washington on first, Royals' all-star third baseman stepped to the plate, and CRUNCH, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT...HOMERUN DEEP TO RIGHT FIELD giving the Royals a one run lead. Score 5-4 Royals' advantage.

Well, not so fast, quickly Yankees Manager, Billy Martin, rushed on the field, demanded the umpires inspect Brett's bat. What were they looking for? Pine tar, sticky, gooey, yucky pine tar, which apparently cannot go any further up the length of the bat than the width of home plate. Martin kept yapping. The umpires huddled. Next, the home plate umpire, Tim McClelland bent over meticulously measuring the bat against the width of home plate. Home plate measures 17" wide. The pine tar clearly went beyond the 18" limit. The umpires continued their discussion walking toward the Royals' dugout while George Brett was getting quite antsy pacing the visitors' dugout. McClelland then motioned toward the dugout, motioned 'you're out!"

Game over, Yankees win. Thuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh Yankees win. Brett lept from the dugout rushed the umpires and to say he went ballistic would be the understatement of the decade having to be restrained and all but carried off the field by his teammates. Meanwhile, Royals pitcher, illegal substance specialist, Gaylord Perry rushed on the field, grabbed the offending bat and rushed off the field.

Game over? Yankees won? Not quite. The Royals protested to league president, Lee McPhail, who over-ruled the umpires, declared the homerun valid, and ordered that the game be resumed from the subsequent at bat, two out, Royals ahead, 5-4.

August 18th to an almost empty Yankee Stadium, only 1,700 die hard fans to watch the specticle, the game resumed. Not giving in easily, Billy Martin was up to every trick he could pull to twart the Royals effort including protesting Brett had not touched all the bases before the next batter, Hal McRae could step to the plate. The umpires declined the protest. Martin went nuts. Martin got the heave-ho from the game. To further make a mockery of the game, Martin had stationed left handed ace, Ron Guidry in center field and Don Mattingly at second base. McRae struck out. KC closer, Dan Quisenberry hurled a perfect bottom of the ninth. The Royals won....Thhhuuuuuuuuhhhhh ROYALS WON!!!

Historical irony, this coming weekend, "Goose" Gossage will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown joining George Brett and Lee McPhail in baseball's most unique fraternity.

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