George Brett’s Legendary Pine Tar Game and Warner Graham’s connection to it

On July 24th, 1983 the Kansas City Royals were down 4 – 3 to the hometown New York Yankees in the top of the ninth. With two outs and one man on base, George Brett came up to bat. He delivered a game leading two run home run off Goose Gossage. After Brett rounded the bases, Yankees manager Billy Martin requested the umpires inspect Brett’s bat. Referencing a rarely enforced rule, he protested that the pine tar exceeded the allowable 18 inches from the tip of the handle. After the umpires consulted (and used home plate as a measuring stick) they determined that the bat did violate the rule, and Brett was called out, ending the game.

As you can revisit in this clip, George Brett’s reaction became legend.


The ruling was later overturned, Brett’s home run was counted, and the last half of the 9th inning was completed on August 18th. There are many additional plot twists to this story, one of which involved an umpire producing an affidavit on the field during that last half inning in anticipation of a Billy Martin protest.

This story is relevant to us because George Brett was using Oriole Brand pine tar on his bat that day—the very same Oriole Pine Tar that Warner Graham produced.

A 1983 Story in the Baltimore sun identified Warner Graham’s role in the contoversial game. (Baltimore Sun article on Pine Tar connection)

Years later a story from ESPN touched on some of the reactions when Warner Graham discontinued its Oriole Brand Pine Tar. Yes we are sorry to say that Pine Tar is no longer a part of our product line.

Pine tar proved to no longer be a big seller, but we will always think fondly of the product and our connection to one of its most notorious moments.