The "Pine Tar Incident" in baseball refers to a controversial and memorable moment that occurred on July 24, 1983, during a game between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. The incident involved George Brett, a star player for the Royals, and it became one of the most famous and debated occurrences in baseball history.
In the top of the ninth inning, with the Royals trailing 4-3, George Brett came up to bat against Yankees pitcher Goose Gossage. Brett hit a go-ahead two-run home run, seemingly putting the Royals ahead. However, after a discussion among the umpires, the Yankees' manager, Billy Martin, protested the home run, claiming that Brett's bat had excessive pine tar on it.
Pine tar is a sticky substance used by batters to get a better grip on the bat, especially in cold or wet weather conditions. However, according to the baseball rules at the time, pine tar could not extend more than 18 inches up the handle of the bat. The umpires examined Brett's bat and determined that the pine tar exceeded the allowed limit, making the bat illegal.
As a result of the ruling, the umpires nullified Brett's home run, called him out, and the game ended with the Yankees winning 4-3. George Brett, enraged by the decision, stormed out of the dugout and had to be restrained by his teammates.
On August 18, 1983, the game was replayed from the point of Brett's home run. The Royals held onto their lead, and the final score was 5-4 in their favor.
The Pine Tar Incident remains one of the most memorable episodes in baseball history, sparking discussions about the interpretation of rules and the role of pine tar in the game. The incident also prompted MLB to revise the rule regarding pine tar, allowing its use only for its intended purpose, grip enhancement, without any restriction on its placement on the bat handle.
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