"I always say George wasn't very smart," McClelland said, "because he's running out at me and I'm 6-foot-6 and I weighed 250 pounds and I have protective equipment on and a bat in my hand."
McClelland fondly recalled the pine tar game during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday night in Houston, shortly before he worked a game between the Astros and Athletics.
"I have young players now come up to me and say, 'Hey, I didn't know you were the pine tar umpire. We were just talking about it the other day and they said it was you,'" McClelland said with a laugh. "I'll have people on the street and people that I know bring it up once in a while. If I go out and give talks, I'm always introduced as the pine tar umpire. It's fine."
What became of the bat only adds another rich layer to its history.
Brett was particularly fond of that piece of lumber because it had fewer grains in the wood, and that meant it was a bit harder than most bats. So even after it had become a piece of baseball folklore, Brett continued to use the stick of ash for a few more games,
"Gaylord Perry was on our team and said, 'George, you're using a very expensive bat. That bat's worth a lot of money,'" Brett said. "I remember taking some alcohol and a towel and cleaning it up to 18 inches — I even drew a red line at the 18-inch mark, and used it one or two games — and Gaylord said, 'You're crazy to use that bat.' So that's when I took it out of play."
Brett sold it to a collector for $25,000, but quickly realized his mistake. He bought it back for the same price — throwing in a bat he used to hit three homers off Catfish Hunter to seal the deal — and eventually donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It remains there to this day.
"Whenever I go back, I always go and look at it," Brett said. "It's pretty cool."