Royals icon George Brett earned hit no. 3000 23-years ago today on September 30, 1992. The landmark hit came against California Angels pitcher Tim Fortuno on a night when he went four for five.
The lined a single up the middle past Angels second baseman Ken Oberkfell. The Angels were apparently prepared to honor George Brett‘s achievement because they launched a firework display immediately after the hit. A rather sparse late-season crowd cheered, which included Brett’s wife Leslie.
Brett was then 39-years-old was and in his 20th season with the KC Royals. He had hit two singles and a double when he came to the plate in the seventh inning with the Royals leading 3-0 and one out. After teammate Greg Jeffries flied out to center, Fortugo picked Brett off first base.
Brett even slammed a hard grounder to second that Ken Oberkfell muffed. Thus, Brett reached base five times out of five that day.
Brett’s milestone hit gave meaning to an otherwise forgettable game. Fifth place Kansas City was 23 games behind in the AL West, while the 6th place Angels were 25 games out. Brett had become a designated hitter by that time, after making his reputation as a third baseman early in his career. His last All-Star appearance had come in 1990 at age 37 when he won the American League batting crown by hitting .329 while playing first base.
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Brett hit a respectable .285/.330/.397 with 35 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 home runs with 61 RBIs in the 1992 season. He played one more year, slashing .266/.312/.434 with 31 doubles, 3 triples, 19 home runs, and 75 RBIs.
George Brett is still the greatest player in franchise history, ruling the offensive record books more than 20 years after he retired. He was elected on the first ballot to the Hall-Of-Fame in 1999 along with Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount. He’s still the model that every Kansas City Royals farmhand wished to emulate.
The funny thing is, George’s 3000th hit is only the second most memorable KC Royals event to take place on September 30. In 2014, Kansas City staged a historic four-run rally to overcome an eighth inning 7-3 deficit for a 9-8 win in 12 innings against the Oakland A’s in the 2014 wild card game.
However, since the Royals didn’t actually WIN that game until 7 minutes before the stroke of midnight on October 1, I’m saving that memorial article for tomorrow.