Tuesday marked the anniversary of the infamous pine tar game, which naturally caused us to spend way too much time reading accounts of the incident. The basic details of the game -- which are fairly well-known to baseball fans -- were bizarre enough: the Royals' George Brett hit an apparent go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth on July 24, 1983. Yankees manager Billy Martin appealed because Brett had more than the allowed 18 inches of pine tar on his bat, and Brett was ruled out, thus ending the game and sending Brett into a rage. The ruling was later overturned, and the game resumed weeks later in New York with the Yankees down 5-4, the score by which they would eventually lose.
Further reading revealed some interesting facts about the whole saga that we didn't know, including a couple of local angles:
• Several publications, after subsequent interviews, credit Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles for tipping off Martin with the idea of checking the pine tar on Brett's bat. Nettles reportedly remembered a 1975 game against the Twins during which then-teammate Thurman Munson was called out for that very thing. Indeed, a box score on retrosheet.org lists this under the first inning play-by-play from a Twins/Yankees game on July 19, 1975: "Munson singled to score White, but Twins protested that he had too much pine tar on bat. Plate umpire Frantz measured bat on plate and called Munson out."
• The man who overturned the ruling and gave Brett a home run -- saying the pine tar on the bat didn't give Brett a competitive advantage and therefore didn't violate the spirit of the rule -- was then-American League president Lee MacPhail, father of Andy MacPhail, the Twins' GM during their two World Series years.
• According to an Associated Press story, when the game resumed in front of a sparse crowd nearly a month after it started, Martin tried to appeal that Brett had missed various bases during his home run trot. He was then shown a sworn affidavit, signed by all four of the umpires from the original part of the game, indicating Brett touched every base. It took only 12 minutes to finish the game.
• Don Mattingly, normally a first baseman, played the ninth inning of the resumed game at second base. A search of baseball-reference.com confirms that it was the most recent appearance at second base by a lefty in the major leagues.