George Brett and the Autograph Hound


Jul 9, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals former player George Brett talks with the media about his pine tar bat incident thirty years ago before a game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the last time we really saw George Brett become irate involved Billy Martin and the Pine Tar Game. That day, after having a possible game winning home run called off for excessive use of pine tar on the bat, Brett went off in a fit of rage that has been forever immortalized, popping up whenever famous arguments in sports are brought up. Brett needed to be restrained by several other umpires and players, and that day also likely marked the last time that Martin ever felt an umpire made the correct call. Eventually, the ruling was overturned, and the home run was allowed to stand.

Now, Brett’s anger has surfaced once again. This time, the subject of Brett’s ire was persistent autograph hound Brandon Farrens, who has accosted Brett multiple times in the past. Farrens himself has admitted to getting Brett’s autograph at least 35 times, and also admitted to selling the autographs. Farrens also secretly videotaped the encounter, as he seemed to be waiting for Brett to go off on him (warning – profane video). Yet, having been essentially stalked by the same person that many times, and likely being goaded into such a tirade by the same person, it may be understandable as to why Brett snapped as he did.

As a sports memorabilia collector myself, I have had the pleasure of being able to meet athletes such as the late Bob Feller and Bubba Smith, the former Colts defensive lineman who may be better known for his role as Hightower in the Police Academy franchise. For the most part, the current and former players I have been fortunate enough to meet have been great. Even the ones I have met outside of autograph shows and planned events have been gracious with the fans.

Yet, there is a time and a place for everything. Like everyone else, these people need their space as well. It is one thing to say hello and share a few words with a fan; it is another thing entirely to be badgered by belligerent autograph hounds that trail those players like a shadow. Yes, these people live in the public eye; however, that does not give the public the right to harass these people every step of the way.

Of course, Farrens is going to play the victim, claiming that he was unnecessarily chewed out by Brett. Yet, it is evident that Brett attempted to ignore Farrens, and that Farrens continued to push the issue waiting for Brett to snap. Why else would he be recording the encounter? It almost feels as though Farrens wanted Brett to go off on him.

While George Brett could have handled the situation much better, it is easy to forget that these players are people as well. Everyone has moments when they lose their cool and snap. Unfortunately for Brett, it happened to be recorded for everyone to see. Although Brett was in the wrong, that does not let Farrens off the hook either. In fact, it is people like Farrens that give other collectors a bad name.