Happy Birthday, George Brett


On this day in 1953, George Howard Brett was born in Glen Dale, West Virginia.

George Brett was my favorite player growing up and still holds that distinction today. Had I been born ten years earlier, I’d have gotten to see him playing in his prime, but the chance to follow him game-by-game is enough. If you’re on this blog, I don’t have to give you the scouting report – Brett’s was among the best pure hitters to ever play the game. He’ll always be compared to third base contemporary Mike Schmidt who won three MVP awards and 10 Gold Gloves and that’s fine, but I’ll take #5 every time.

One of my favorite memories came in 1992 on September 30 when Brett collected his 3000th hit against the California Angels. Four hits shy of the milestone, all Brett did was go 4-5, ripping a bullet past Ken Oberkfell at second base for a single for the historic hit.

In a rare lapse of focus from one of the best competitors in the game, Brett was picked off first.

I was in sixth grade that season and stayed up to listen to the game on the radio. After Brett’s second hit off Julio Valera of the Angels, I grabbed a cassette tape to capture the remainder of the game just in case this would be the night.

I find my baseball fandom tied to Brett in many ways. I was born in 1980, right in the middle of Brett’s quest for .400. I first learned the basics of baseball in 1985 during the World Series and after what I’d consider Brett’s most complete season performance (.335/.436/.585 30 homers, 112 RBI, 38 doubles and a 103/49 K/BB ratio. He also won the only Gold Glove of his career at third base). Were it not for a ridiculous 145 RBI season from Don Mattingly, Brett would have had his second MVP award. I still think he should have won it. In 1990, when Brett was winning his third batting title, I was busy putting blue marker to white t-shirt to create my Halloween costume, and I’ll give you a hint, there was a big blue number 5 on the back of the shirt once I was done.

I’d read a quote once that Brett wanted his last at bat to be a groundout to second base, emphasizing that he’d run all the way through the base while making the out. That’s the kind of player he was – diving into dugouts to make a catch, going ballistic when a homerun got called back (you know the Pine Tar Game, of course, right?), and spraying the ball all over the place. Brett’s last at bat came on October 3, 1993 – a solid single up the middle into center field.

I’ll never be fully convinced that there’s no such thing as a “clutch” performer because Brett was clutch. Think of his three-run homer to put the Royals up 4-2 in 1980 against the Yankees in the ALCS, finally carrying KC to the World Series after three failed attempts from 1976-1978. Or his .370 average in 1985 as the Royals beat the Cardinals for their only championship. In 43 postseason games, Brett compiled a 1.023 OPS.

Yeah, that’s clutch.

I recall the press conference where Brett announced he was retiring after the 1993 season. I locked myself in my bedroom for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, I grew up too far from Kansas City, so trips to Royals Stadium were rare, and Brett was injured or given a day off on those nights when my family made the trek to see the Royals so I never got to see Brett play on the field. As I said before, had I been born ten years earlier …

Year G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 13 41 2 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 .125 .125 .175 .300
1974 133 486 49 129 21 5 2 47 8 21 38 .282 .313 .363 .676
1975 159 697 84 195 35 13 11 89 13 46 49 .308 .353 .456 .809
1976 159 705 94 215 34 14 7 67 21 49 36 .333 .377 .462 .839
1977 139 627 105 176 32 13 22 88 14 55 24 .312 .373 .532 .905
1978 128 558 79 150 45 8 9 62 23 39 35 .294 .342 .467 .809
1979 154 701 119 212 42 20 23 107 17 51 36 .329 .376 .563 .939
1980 117 515 87 175 33 9 24 118 15 58 22 .390 .454 .664 1.118
1981 89 379 42 109 27 7 6 43 14 27 23 .314 .361 .484 .846
1982 144 629 101 166 32 9 21 82 6 71 51 .301 .378 .505 .884
1983 123 525 90 144 38 2 25 93 0 57 39 .310 .385 .563 .947
1984 104 422 42 107 21 3 13 69 0 38 37 .284 .344 .459 .802
1985 155 665 108 184 38 5 30 112 9 103 49 .335 .436 .585 1.022
1986 124 529 70 128 28 4 16 73 1 80 45 .290 .401 .481 .881
1987 115 508 71 124 18 2 22 78 6 72 47 .290 .388 .496 .884
1988 157 681 90 180 42 3 24 103 14 82 51 .306 .389 .509 .898
1989 124 528 67 129 26 3 12 80 14 59 47 .282 .362 .431 .793
1990 142 607 82 179 45 7 14 87 9 56 63 .329 .387 .515 .902
1991 131 572 77 129 40 2 10 61 2 58 75 .255 .327 .402 .729
1992 152 637 55 169 35 5 7 61 8 35 69 .285 .330 .397 .727
1993 145 612 69 149 31 3 19 75 7 39 67 .266 .312 .434 .746
21 Seasons 2707 11624 1583 3154 665 137 317 1595 201 1096 908 .305 .369 .487 .857
162 Game Avg. 162 696 95 189 40 8 19 95 12 66 54 .305 .369 .487 .857
G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2010.

You can stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on TwitterFacebook, or by way of our RSS feed.

Next Royals Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Aug 2424 Aug2:05at Texas RangersBuy Tickets

Tags: AL Central Baseball George Brett Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals

  • Keaton Krell

    When’s the last time you’ve sh!t YOUR pants?