A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 41 George Brett (Number 3 Third Base)

To be fair if I had only one game to play and if Brett was healthy, I would play him at third base over anybody. The same for Jackie Robinson at second base, but I will get to him later. Brett when he was healthy could hit with anyone and he often did. He hit .390 in 1980 despite being hurt a lot of the year. People didn’t realize at the time what a great season he had in 1985 leading the Royals to the division title. Then he willed his team to the World Series title. At least I believe he did. I remember Rick Dempsey the catcher was announcer for the Championship Series. He interviewed George Brett about what the Royals had to do. Then Dempsey left Brett in the background and told the audience how Toronto had too much talent, and they were going to beat the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. To be fair that was the view almost everyone had before the series. While he was doing this, I see Brett getting more and more peeved. I thought the Royals had a chance at this time.

That postseason in 14 games he got on base 29 times. It wasn’t just the stats, I believed as they watched him hit his teammates became more confident. He didn’t have as good of World Series as he had a Championship Series, but the team seemed to play better. Let’s go through each of these games.

Brett goes 3 hits in 4 at bats, but Toronto win game 1 easily 6-1. Game 2 George does not have a good game. He is 0 for 4 with a walk and is caught stealing. He strikes out when the Royals take a 1-run lead in the 10th. Dan Quisenberry gives up two runs in the bottom of the 10th and the Royals lose a heartbreaker 6-5 in 10 innings.

In game 3 Brett has one of the greatest postseason games of all time. He homers in the bottom of the first to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. In the fourth he leads off with a double and scores on a sacrifice fly to put the Royals up 2-0. Toronto is not taking this lying down and score 5 runs in the top of the 5th to take a 5-2 lead. Rick Dempsey’s prediction is looking really solid now. Toronto has a calculated 81 percent chance to win the game and go up three games to none in the series. Jim Sundberg homered in the bottom of the fifth to put the Royals a run closer. Brett hits a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. In the bottom of the eighth Brett leads off with a single and scores the winning run on Steve Balboni’s single. Royals hold on to win 6-5. Brett gives the game ball to his manager Dick Houser, his first win in 9 post season games.

Toronto doesn’t want to pitch to Brett no more. He goes 0 for 2 in game 4 with two intentional walks. The strategy works as Toronto wins 3-1. As a minimum they will go home with a series lead. Game 5 Danny Jackson pitches a great game. Royals win 2-0. Brett is 0 for 3 with a walk and drove in the lead run with a ground out. Brett hasn’t had a hit for 2 games. Game 6. In the first Brett walks with a man on base. Hal McRae drives in a run to give the Royals the lead in the first. Toronto ties it in the bottom of the first. In the third McRae drives in another run despite Brett making an out in front of him. Toronto ties the game again. In the top of the fifth Brett hits a homerun to put the Royals up 3-2. In the 6th the Royals rally for another two runs to take a 5-2 lead. Brett comes up and he in intentionally walked despite batting in front of Hal McRae who already had two RBIs. McRae makes the third out of the inning. Toronto scores another run in the bottom of the 6th. However, there is no more scoring, and the series is going to game 7. Brett goes 0 for 3 with a walk in game 7 but the Royals get six runs and win easily 6-2.

Now on to the World Series where again the Royals are heavy underdogs to the St. Louis Cardinals. In game 1 Brett goes 1 for 4 as the Royals loses 3-1. In the fourth Brett hits a double to score Willie Wilson and scores on a double by Frank White. The Royals lead 2-0. It looks like the lead is going to hold up as the Royals lead 2-0 going into the 9th. However, Charlie Leibrandt who pitched a great game until that point is left in the game too long and gives up 4 runs. The Royals lose.

The Royals go to St. Louis after losing two games at home and the second game was a heartbreaker. The next three games would be in St. Louis. The Royals had to win two to get back home. Brett goes 2 for 2 with 3 walks. Another perfect game 3. With the Royals up 2-0 in the fifth Brett leads off with a single and scores on Frank White’s home run. A 4-0 lead is plenty as Bret Saberhagen pitches a great game winning 6-1. By the way Brett scored another run after leading off the seventh. However, the next day John Tudor of the Cardinals pitched a great game giving Cardinals a 3-0 victory. Brett had 1 hit if 4 at bats. Again, the Royals are down in a series 3 games to 1.

The Royals carry George Brett as he goes 1 for 4 with a walk. However, Danny Jackson pitches another great game and the Royals win easily 6-1. Game 6 Brett goes 0 for 4. Charlie Leibrandt versus Danny Cox. No one is scoring. In the top of the 8th Brian Harper drives in a run off Leibrandt to make the game 1-0. Leibrandt must feel snake bit (unlucky). St. Louis brings their ace reliever Todd Worrell in to end the game in the 9th. Jorge Orta hits a slow roller to first. He was called safe even though he was definitely out. St. Louis lets this bother them and give up 2 runs on a single to right field by pinch hitter Dane Iorg.

Another game 7 for the Royals. Brett has a big day, but so do all the Royals. Saberhagen throws a shutout.  The Royals win 11-0. Brett hits a single in the first but doesn’t score. In the second Daryl Motley hits a two-run homer to give the Royals the lead. It is ironic as that is who Jorge Orta pinch hit for to start the ninth the night before. In the singles and scores a run as the Royals stretch the lead to 5-0. In the fourth Brett hits another single but no more scoring. Royal fans are just enjoying everything. In the sixth Brett singles and scores as the Royals stretch the lead to 11-0, ending the scoring. I’m sure Brett no longer cared as the Royals won their first World Championship.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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