2018-08-09 / People

Blue Whistler, the pine tar game

Baseball’s Best
By LAMAR GARRARD Baseball historian

“I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. I was just trying to get my home run back.” George Brett, Kansas City Royals Hall Of Fame third baseman on the July 24,1983, game against the Yankees. Base­ball has had many moments that will be remembered forever by the fans, scribes, historians, and even the casual observer of the game.

Many recall reading about the 1919 World Series Black Sox Scandal. We remember the his­tory of Babe Ruth’s 60th home run and when Roger Maris hit 61. What about the great Henry Aaron’s 715th. Think about Don Larsen’s perfectly pitched World Series game against the Dodg­ers. One of my favorites is Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world.” “Giants win the pen­nant.”

Well, we can certainly add to the list the dramatic game in which George Brett came up in the ninth inning and with two outs clouted a two run homer to put the Royals on top over the Yankees 5-4 on July 24, 1983. Everything was fine for a minute or two until Billy Martin, Yan­kees manager, came running out of the dugout complaining about too much substance or pine tar in this case being on the bat making the home run not count. Regret­fully, rookie umpire Tim Mc­Clelland agreed and called Brett out and the score remained a 4-3 New York win. Many characters are seen in the YouTube video of Brett charging out of the Royals dugout to protest the call. Kansas City manager Dick Howser and umpire Joe Brinkman are trying to hold George off from McClel­land. Atlanta Braves announcer Joe Simpson, an outfielder for the Royals was there trying to make peace. Ejections were given to Howser, Brett, Gaylord Perry, and coach Rocky Colavito.

The game’s outcome was pro­tested and American League Pres­ident Larry McPhail governed that the home run should count and that the game finish would be in New York on August 18 to give the Yanks a chance to bat in the bottom of the ninth. The game was played before only 1,200 fans and pitcher Dan Quisenberry re­tired the Yankees 1,2, 3 and the Royals won the game 5-4.

My college housemate (his room was next to mine in a large dorm house} and longtime friend Mickey Cobb has written a won­derful account of the game and the Royals team and some of the factors involved in being a major league player and the everyday events that occur. Mickey was the trainer for the Royals for many years and he was in the dugout to witness first hand the events that occurred on the field.

The book, Blue Whistler, takes you to Mickey’s hometown of Waycross to learn about pine tar. After all, without the substance there would not have been a game called pine tar. The Blue Whis­tler was a large turpentine barrel where the product was collected.

Mickey gives the reader a first-hand look at the intricacies and challenges of being a major league baseball trainer. He gives us a good look at the person and the player, George Brett, and you read Mickey’s account of why Brett is considered the ultimate baseball player and competitor and why he is so respected in the baseball world.

The book is on Amazon or info can be seen on the Blue Whis­tler face book page. Congratula­tions Mr. Brett on such a notori­ous home run and an even more exceptional career! Mickey, you have written a very good baseball book!

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