Black reflects on his part in 'Pine Tar Game'

July 25th, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- Monday marked an anniversary for Rockies manager Bud Black, who 34 years ago, as a left-hander for the Royals, started at Yankee Stadium and gave up four runs in six innings in a no-decision. It wasn't a memorable outing -- until pine tar became involved.
With two outs in the ninth and the Yankees up, 4-3, Royals future Hall of Famer George Brett hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth off another future Hall of Famer, Yankees closer Goose Gossage. New York manager Billy Martin then complained that the pine tar on Brett's bat extended beyond the trademark -- a violation at the time. After lengthy arguments and discussions, home-plate umpire Tim McClellan ruled Brett out, and bedlam ensued.
"I was in the training room when he hit it -- I'd been knocked out of the game and was getting ice on my arm," Black said. "I was watching on a small black-and-white TV when George went deep. All I remember, with the trainer and a couple of other guys in the clubhouse, we were saying, 'No. The umpires are not going to do this. No way they're going to take this homer away from him.'
Looking back at the Pine Tar Game
"Sure enough, when Billy was out there and [third baseman Graig] Nettles was out there, and when you saw Nettles clap and sort of run to the dugout, we sort of knew that McClellan was going to call him out. We couldn't believe it. We were in shock."

Thus the game ended, with the Yankees winning by a run. The Royals filed an official protest, and then-American League president Lee MacPhail ordered that the homer would count and that the game would be finished later in the season -- although Brett's ejection for his legendary outburst would stand. The Royals would win, 5-4.
Through all the controversy, Black was able to avoid the "L."
"When [Brett] hit the homer, I spit the hook," Black said. "And then they put it back in. That never happens, right? I had it nailed for, like, three weeks. Then I went back and I spit the hook when they allowed the protest."