George Howard Brett has definite opinions of the New York Yankees. “There was real hatred between us,” says Hall of Famer George Brett during a recent visit to Cooperstown (NY), speaking of the Yanks and his Kansas City Royals. “We looked forward to playing them, beginning in spring training. There was no love lost between […]
George Howard Brett has definite opinions of the New York Yankees.
“There was real hatred between us,” says Hall of Famer George Brett during a recent visit to Cooperstown (NY), speaking of the Yanks and his Kansas City Royals. “We looked forward to playing them, beginning in spring training. There was no love lost between us.”
Playing his last big league game a quarter of a century ago, Brett, who came up to the Royals during the 1973 season and would spend 21 years as the club's third baseman, still enjoys speaking about one of the American League's greatest all-time rivalries.
During a five-season span (1976-'80), Kansas City and the Yankees battles rivaled that of the New York and Boston of today. If cable television of today had the same household penetration in the mid-'70's, there would be so much more talk of just how hard these teams battled each other. In 1976, New York went through Brett and his teammates to win the American League pennant. The next two seasons, the Yanks pushed aside the Royals, while collecting back-to-back World Series championships.
“It was so much fun going to New York,” Brett,65, recalls. “The fans despised us. It was as good as it got. It was Royals-Yankees eight times a season, and then the playoffs.”
In 1980, the Royals finally climbed over the Yankees, winning their first-ever American League pennant, in three straight post-season games. Brett, a .305 lifetime hitter, and the only player in MLB history to win batting championships in three different decades ('76,'80, and '90), along with Royals' teammates Amos Otis, Hal McRae, and Frank White, played opposite the Philadelphia Phillies in that Fall Classic.
Going to the Series, and beating the Yankees, was doubly rewarding for Brett and Royals' fans.
“They had the “Big Apple”, and we were the second smallest market in baseball at the time,” Brett recalls of the Royals-Yankees challenges.
Brett is best remembered by fans who saw him play as hard as any the game has ever witnessed. More than 3,000 hits collected, of course the Pine Tar incident during the 1983 season, ironically during a game against the Yankees in the Bronx,hitting .390 in 1980, and leading the Royals to their first World Series championship in 1985, only scratch the surface on what a tough competitor Brett was.
Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, Brett , who remains a part of the Royals' organization today as the club's vice-president of baseball operations, has an exceptionally sharp memory when it comes to revisiting his encounters with the Yankees.