This Date In Royals History – October 3, 1976 1990
When you enter the month of October in Royals history it is inevitable that the name of George Brett will come up every so often. Though George’s career includes chapters of October post-season heroics, there were also several regular season highlights including a Major League Baseball first on this date 19 years ago.
On October 3, 1990 the Royals were playing the final game of the season against the Indians at old Cleveland Stadium. When the day began Brett led Oakland’s Rickey Henderson in the batting race .3278 to .3251. George was not in Manager John Wathan’s starting line-up that day, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter for third baseman Sean Berry in the fifth inning and drove in Kansas City’s first run with a sacrifice fly. He batting again in the seventh inning and dropped a single into rightfield moving his average to .329.
Henderson was removed from the A’s game in the fifth inning with one hit in three at-bats leaving his average at .325. Knowing the title was clinched, Bo Jackson actually pinch-hit for Brett in the ninth inning of the 5-2 Cleveland win. But George Brett had collected his third American League batting title while also becoming the first Major League Player to win batting crowns in three different decades (1976, 1980, 1990).
Just A Bit More: Both George’s first and third batting titles were clinched with hits in his final at-bat in the last game of the season – and BOTH ocurred on the date of October 3. In 1976 George was credited with an inside the park HR in his last at-bat to edge Hal McRae on a controversial play (or no play) by Twins leftfielder Steve Brye. Some thought Brye misplayed Brett’s ball intentionally, to deny the title to McRae – though no one but Brye could ever really know.
What we know for sure is that George finished ahead of his good friend and teammate by the slightest of margins (.3333 to .33206) for his first batting title 33 years ago on this date.
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)