Did you name your little one after George Brett? When was he (or she?) born, and why did you decide to do so? Tell us, and be included in our special project commemorating the 40th anniversary of Brett’s call-up to the major leagues in 1973 — a move that forever changed the sports narrative of our region.
The Kansas City Star
Send your stories, including your name and hometown, to email@example.com. We’ll publish the best tales below, with newest responses added at the top.
Worn with pride
When I found out my first-born in 1991 was going to be a boy, there was only one name I could think of giving him. Growing up, my summers were spent in rural Missouri throwing the tennis ball up against the wall and fielding it while Denny and Fred gave me play-by-play soundtracks of the guy who is still the greatest I ever saw.
Therefore, I proudly named my first-born “Brett” — a name he wears with great pride as a long-suffering Royals fan, and a name he will proudly wear into the stadium on Aug. 22 for his 21st-birthday celebration.
Hard not to like
I knew my first son would be named after George Brett. I attended my first baseball game in 1971 and I was a little upset when Paul Schaal had a slow start in 1974 and was traded to the Angels. George Brett was his replacement, and it didn’t take long to admire the hard playing third baseman. George Brett epitomized everything right about baseball: work hard, play hard, loyalty. So when it came time to name my son (1997) I named him Brett... because my wife would not let me name him George.
Bret was born the week after the Royals won the World Series November 5, 1985. My husband Bob and I had already decided on the name Bret to go with Miller because it really was not a name that was very poplar then, but it would be different with Miller since it was a common name. We were invited to the Wendy’s Suite the faithful night the Royals won and I almost delivered there from all the excitement.
After delivery, I had to get his birth certificate filled out. I went to the nursery at the hospital and of course there were 11 boys with all the name BRETT, so I decided he had to be Bret to be different! I have been scolded since then by Bret (why did you have to spell my name with just one ‘T,’ because no one every spells it right?!).
Speed forward to April 28, 2010, when Bret was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24. Yes: breast cancer! Men too! His mastectomy was scheduled for May 18, on which I was so scared for. He had had the lump under his right nipple since he was 17 and all the doctors told us it was calcium and he was becoming a man. Not true! Finally, at age 24, when all my kids got health insurance with their companies they worked for, I asked them all to get a physical, and Bret be sure to get that doctor to look at that lump. This doctor reacted, and the rest is history.
Prior to surgery, we decided to set up up a Foundation for Bret to help other men and youth build awareness and encourage early detection. Now The Miller Team knows the path God has chosen for us thru Bret’s foundation and we do it daily (www.CheckThem.org is Bret’s website; also check out www.BreastSelfExams.org).
Surprise ... it’s a boy!
Growing up in Parsons, Kan., I was the only girl in my family, and in the entire neighborhood, for that matter.
That meant that I loved to play and watch baseball. My dad took my brothers and I to a Royals game a number of times growing up. I always loved George Brett and thought he was the greatest! As I’ve grown up, my love for baseball has not changed, nor has my respect for Brett.
I was pregnant, due to have a girl, in the spring of 1999. We had tons of pink stuff ready. A week before the due date, we decided we better have a back-up boys name just in case there was a suprise. The only thing I could come up with that I really liked was Brett Richard, after two men I admired (Richard being my dad). Needless to say there was a huge suprise when the doctor whispered, “Oh no, its a boy, not a girl.”
“That’s ok,” I replied confidently, “I have a name . . . BRETT!”
The rest is history. My son Brett is going to be a freshman this fall and loves baseball! He proudly wears the number 5 on his jersey no matter what sport he is participating in. He often talkes about one day playing for the Royals. We try to make the 3 1/2 hour trip to Kauffman Stadium at least once a summer as a family. All four of our kids know to look for the “real” Brett while we are there. Who knew a suprise would be such a fun blessing!
Janell Houk, Parsons, Kan.
United by Brett
Although my husband and I grew up in different states (Mike in Nebraska and me in Shawnee), we were big fans of George Brett in the 1980s. George Brett was iconic. He was a great player and was so proud of Kansas City.
We were blessed with the news that we would be expecting our first child in September 2003. We did not find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so we had to have names ready for both. We are both teachers and have worked with so many kids that it was hard to decide on the right name. Then we reminisced about our memories of Brett, our all-time favorite baseball player. At that moment, we knew that if our firstborn was a boy, his name would be Brett.
Mike & Julie Vodehnal, Overland Park
Inspiration on TV
Our little brother was born on Oct. 18, 1980, in Fort Scott, Kan. When our mom was in the delivery room, our dad was in the waiting room watching the Royals play on the TV. Our dad did not go back with our mother because he is not a big fan of blood.
As he was watching the game, George had a great night at the plate for the Royals. As he remembers it, George was three for five with some key hits to win the game. So when the doctor came and told him he had his fifth healthy child, a boy, he told our mother he wanted to name him George Brett Hessong because Brett had played a great game on the day he was born.
Our mom told him she didn’t want to name him George, even though she was a huge fan of his and always has been. So our brother was named Tod Allan Hessong: my name is Ted and my other brother’s name is Tim and she wanted to go with a three-letter name that started with a “T,” like his older brothers. It was good thing he was named Tod, because he definitely would have never lived up to George’s name, because he was a bunt-for-singles kind of baseball player when he played in high school.
Ted Hessong, Principal, Frontenac High School, Frontenac, Kan.
From Iowa with love
I was born in Kansas City but never lived there; my father was born and raised there. I consider KC my hometown, and always will. I currently in Waterloo, Iowa, with my wife Stephanie and my five daughters.
Needless to say, the Royals and Chiefs play a huge part in my life ... and intrude on my daughters’ lives. Baseball was one of the first sports my father introduced me to. I loved it and still do with all my heart. My dad was in Vietnam when the Royals came into existence, having seen the old KC Athletics play. I have pictures showing me in my Royals and Chiefs shirt when I was only days old.
The Royals are my lifeblood in the summertime and always have been. Like many other Royals fans, George Brett was my favorite player from the time I was introduced to him by my father. He is my favorite player of all-time in any sport, though Derrick Thomas comes in a close second. Growing up, I tried to force myself or will myself to play third base, the number 5 became the most important number in my life. Whether I played football, basketball or baseball, I wanted to be number 5. It worked in middle school, but as I grew taller, the jersey numbers grew larger. I taught myself to bat left-handed to be like George; I tried his stance but it was too hard. When he moved to first, I did my best to move there, too.
Each of my girls is named after someone, or there is a significance to their names, first and middle. My oldest is named after Michael Jordan; my next in line is named after my wife and I; the next two have middle names for their grandmothers. For my youngest, on the other hand, I wanted something different. I always liked my name (Jason) for a girl, change the spelling (Jacyn) and use a nickname (Jacy). It took some serious bribing on my part to get my wife to agree to the middle name — Bret (we left the second ‘t’ off to give it a more feminine look). It worked, and I have Jacy Bret.
I have shared with her as much as she can understand of how important George was to me growing up, and what he stood for and how he played. She understands, to a point, being just 5 years old), and I show pictures and videos. She brags to others, and is so proud. I didn’t get to my first Royals game until I was 10, but she got there at 2.
At the age of 5, she just attended her third Royals game this past weekend against the Tigers. We got to our seats just in time to witness something that I never expected to see: George Brett throwing batting practice and seeing that No. 5 on the field again. I was like a kid, so excited to be sharing my excitement with my two youngest. I showed her and we talked and it was just a mind-blowing experience, seeing something in person you only saw on paper and on TV. I love George Brett and I always will. I only hope that my excitement for all things KC is instilled in my kids.
GO ROYALS! (Chiefs too)
And ... it’s a girl!
My sister-in-law is one such case — she is the fifth of five girls.
But when my mother-in-law, Joanne Stephens (God bless her soul), became pregnant with her, they were told it was a boy. My father in law, Paul Stephens, is a huge Royals fan, and especially liked George Brett, so it was an easy decision what their first boy’s name would be. But when the baby was born, it was a girl! In trying to keep with naming her Brette, they settled with Aubrette, a mix between Aubrey and Brette.
Brett through the years
I grew up in Kansas and started listening to Denny and Fred about the time George was called up from Omaha.
I have so many Brett memories, but a few that stand out are riding home on the high school football team bus listening as he hit the home run off Gossage in the 1980 ALCS, hearing the call when he hit a double to go above .400 in August of 1980, and watching the Pine Tar Game live on TV in 1983. Because of his competitive spirit, 100 percent effort and success on the field, and then when he chose to stay and raise his family in KC, he became my only true sports hero. I still regret not going to his last game in 1993 even though I lived in Texas and the game was in Arlington.
When our second son was born, naming him Brett was an easy choice for us. I have enjoyed coaching our Brett and it’s been great to see the “Brett 5’ on his jersey through the years. We now have a great time together following our favorite team, the Royals.
Marc Bokelman, Evergreen, Colo.
Summers in Kansas City
While my story of lifelong affection for the Royals and George Brett is echoed throughout the Midwest, I am probably one of the more unique tales of those who named their son after George Brett, because I didn’t grow up in Kansas City. In fact, I didn’t live in Kansas City until I was 21 years old and out of college.
I got hooked on the Royals and George Brett because of my grandparents, who lived in Leawood; we would visit them every summer and they would always take my family to a Royals game. Born in 1979, I was growing up smack in the Royals’ heyday, and even though I was living in Detroit when we started going to Royals games, my grandparents ensured my affinity was with the Royals.
The first few games we went to, George Brett always hit a home run ... and my grandparents and parents told me he hit them for me! The first game I went to where George didn’t go deep, they say I cried the whole way back to my grandparents’ house. George Brett was also my hero not only because of his feats on the baseball field, but also because of his commitment to ALS. My grandfather died in 1984 from ALS, and he and my grandma were a part of the local Keith Worthington Chapter, for whose benefit they held the annual George Brett Celebrity golf tournament. Near the end of my grandfather’s life, he and my grandma went to the tournament and got a bunch of the Royals autographs on a baseball for me, including George’s. They also got a personalized note for me that read, “Chris, My Best ... George Brett.”
We continued going to Royals games every summer on our trips to Kansas City, and my love for the Royals and George grew and grew. My family was living in Dubai when the Royals won the World Series (and watched all the games on tape — taped by my great aunt, who is a Cardinals fan). I was living in Detroit and went to the game before George hit it out of the old Tiger Stadium; living in Connecticut when I got his autograph at old Yankee Stadium; and living in Texas when we went to the next-to-last series he played in Arlington (and I have two unused tickets from George’s final game). Finally, my dad and I made the trek from suburban Detroit to Cooperstown in ’99 to see George inducted into the Hall of Fame. I could continue, but I’ll get on with the best part of this story.
It had been my dream visiting Kansas City every summer to move there after college, find my wife and stay there the rest of my life, being able to go to as many Royals games as I wanted. Well I did find my wife — we got married three years after I moved to Kansas City, but we moved in 2005 to the Dallas area, where we still live. Thankfully, my wife liked the name Brett when I suggested it as our first son’s name. It probably didn’t help that I always referred to him as Brett, even before he was born! And on July 8, 2005, in Dallas, Texas, Brett Zamzow was born, and with him, a second-generation Royals fan!!
Thanks for allowing all of us Royals fan to reminisce over memories of our naming inspiration!
Chris Zamzow, Dallas
One ballplayer to another
Back in the early ’70s, when the Kansas City Royals had their Spring Training in Sarasota, Fla., I recall my first introduction to George Brett. I was a Royals farmhand signed out of UCLA and was walking back to the clubhouse with another former UCLA teammate, Jim York. We had just run 15 “poles” in 80-90 percent humidity and were absolutely spent. But while walking past a field to our left, I heard a sound that I had never heard before. It was the sound of a baseball hit off the bat of George “Lou” Brett. He was taking extra batting practice and the ball was jumping off the bat like a golf ball off a Taylor Made driver.
I recall asking Jim if he knew who that hitter was. He looked and said “that’s Ken Brett’s younger brother, George” — you know, the Bretts from El Segundo. I said, “His last name is Brett?” And he said, “Yep.” I knew then if I was lucky enough to have a son, his first name was going to be Brett. That came true, and I remember George finding out that Brett Hansen was playing in a professional Team Tennis event in Kansas City many years later, and he took the time to introduce himself to my son.
That’s just what George Brett does!
Thanks to the officer
I was a bit of a baseball misfit growing up in northern New Jersey. Nobody around here was a fan of the Kansas City Royals, especially during their heyday of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their rivalry with the dreaded New York Yankees and the Yankees’ rivalry with George Brett were epic. My fandom with the Royals and George Brett began in 1976 and has endured through thick and thin these past 37 years. (I’m also a huge fan of Nolan Ryan, but that is another story for the Houston Chronicle).
When my two boys were born in 1995 and 1997, it was only natural that I named them Ryan & Brett, respectively. My wife went along with it, and to this day she loves to tell the story of how we picked out their names. When both of my childhood sports heroes retired in 1993, I knew right then and there I would be attending their induction ceremony at Cooperstown in 1999. Funny enough, it was the names of my children which would make that event truly unforgettable.
Anyone who attended Brett’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony knows it was one of the largest crowds ever. When my wife and I arrived that morning, I was heartbroken to see that we would be on the grass approximately a quarter-mile away from the stage, or so it seemed. Not satisfied with the situation, I left my wife (at her suggestion) and tried to work my way closer to the stage. I should preface this story by reminding everyone that this ceremony took place pre-9/11. I then proceeded to approach every uniformed officer I could find in the hopes that one of them would let me slip into an area a little closer to the stage. To their credit, they all did their job and I was no better off. When a female officer walked by, I gave it one last try and threw in a little “I named my two boys after these guys.” With that, she was kind enough to allow me into a closer section. I sat there happy as could be waiting for it to start when she came back five minutes later and asked me to follow her. Not knowing what was going on, I followed her behind the stage and back around to the front, where she directed me to sit with the press photographers. I was now no more than 10 feet from the stage, with nobody in front of me. I was closer to the podium than the inductees’ family members were. Needless to say, this was one of the greatest experiences of my life thanks to two little boys named Brett and Ryan, and one wonderful officer who I will never forget.
A special thanks to George for being the interim hitting instructor for the Royals these past few months. I made the trip to Yankee Stadium earlier this month and saw two of the Royals games. Seeing George in uniform again at the ballpark made me feel like a kid all over again.
Jeff Temple, South Plainfield, N.J.
Brett fan in enemy territory
I grew up in upstate New York, in the shadow of Cooperstown. Big Yankee country.
I always noticed the fear that No. 5 put into the Yankees and how he seemed to revel in making KC-NY among the greatest rivalries in the 1970s and 1980s. My high school baseball coach, Jimmy Purtell, became a Royal fan just before Brett’s initial call-up as he saw great potential and liked the way they played. Over many years of coaching, he always used Brett as a model to his players for competitiveness and overall approach to the game. Jimmy has been a huge Royals fan and constantly debates local fans of the “Skanks,” as he calls them.
Jimmy organized annual trips to Yankee Stadium for several years to see the Royals — the entire series, not just one game — and I went on several of those trips. In fact, the gang is actually seen in the picture in Bo Jackson’s book where he is robbing a home run in left field at Yankee Stadium. I met George Brett when I was living in LA in the late ’80s when he tended bar one night in his family’s restaurant in Hermosa, and even in that brief encounter, his eyes seemed to just dare me to try to get a fastball by him. When my first son was born in 2001, I wanted Jimmy to be his godfather, leaving me little choice but to parlay that by bestowing him with the name Brett.
He has since come to love playing Little League baseball and is proud of who he is named after (and the envy of his teammates). He and I actually almost met George a couple years ago as he was exiting the Hall of Fame library, but he was in a hurry and did not respond to us. I thought he would be amused to meet a little boy that was named after him, but after reading all the other letters, I guess several others beat me to it. Yankee games have become too expensive, so Jimmy’s trips have been re-routed to see the Royals in Pittsburgh and KC recently.
Little Brett Carey can’t wait to make it on his irst Royal road trip.
Patrick Carey, Endwell, N.Y.
Named for two icons
Growing up in Erie, Kansas, in the ’70s and ’80s, George Brett was my favorite player by far. Every summer our grandparents would take the entire family go watch the Royals. It was always exciting to get to see him play live. I loved that he always ran hard every play, even on routine outs.
I somehow convinced Brett’s mother that he should be named after my favorite Royal and Chief. Brett Thomas Weidert was born on September 28, 2002, after George Brett and Derrick Thomas.
While living in Texas and Florida, Brett occasionally gets asked if he’s named after Brett Farve. He’s proud to correct them.
Two Bretts in Cooperstown
My wife and I were married in 1985 and, as big Royals fans, thought that Brett would be a great name if we were blessed with a son. Brett Michael Patterson was born Nov. 22, 1988. My mom sent a baby photo of Brett to the Royals for George to autograph, which he did. When our Brett was 10, I took him to Cooperstown in the summer of 1999 for George Brett’s Hall of Fame induction. Brett is now 24 and a college graduate, and he is an avid Royals fan. Our family travels to Kansas City a few times each season to watch the team play, and Brett often will wear his No. 5 Royals jersey.
Mike Patterson, Omaha, Neb.
Fan for life
I grew up in Omaha and became a George Brett admirer looking up to the budding star when I was an impressionable 13-year old. I was crushed the day my grandfather quipped during a weekend doubleheader at Rosenblatt Stadium that George Brett would never amount to much.
I stayed a Brett fan through his early struggles in the majors then became hooked after his amazing run at .400 in 1980. When my son was born in 1985, there was no doubt he would be Brett Carl Hinsley — with my father’s name in the middle.
After moving to KC in the early 1990s, I volunteered as my son’s grade-school basketball coach. The name Brett proved very popular as his team had four of the eight boys with the same first name.
I forgot to mention that my Brett now saves lives for living as a Paramedic in College Station, Texas. Good things happen to kids named Brett.
Ron Hinsley, Novi, Mich.
He stands for quality
I named my first born after George Brett. We named him Brett Joeckel because of the determination and quality he not only brought to the Royals but also to Kansas City. When he decided to stay in Kansas City after retiring, that meant more to the city than even when he played here. And the way he has represented us during the All-Star Game last year and helping with coaching this year’s team ... whether he succeeds or not, at least he tried.
Thank you, George!
Love from New York
I have lived in the New York, New Jersey area my entire life.
I became a Royals fan in 1974 because I really enjoyed watching the way Brett played the game. And also for all the pain and suffering he put on the hated Yankees.
I was at the game in ’76 when he hit the three-run homer to tie the game that Chambliss won in the ninth.
When my wife and I were going over names for our children, I said, ‘How about Brett? It’s a great name.’ She was not as enthusiastic about the name, so we named our son Christopher Brett.
You win the battles you can.
My Little League team that I coached for years was the Royals. How great it was to see my son wear No. 5 and have a Royals uniform on. It was a blast.
My son is 18 now and plays hockey instead of baseball, but he still wears No. 5.
I have been to KC four times over the years to watch my Royals play. I was there in ’93 to watch George play his last season, and last year my son and I attended the All-Star Game. We were in KC for 5 days. He absolutely loved the city and the people were great. He said to me, ‘Dad, I get it now why you love this team so much.’
He understands my passion for the game, and from watching videos of the way George played the game, he wishes he could have seen him play in his prime.
I told him he was something to see — a once-in-a-lifetime player. I consider myself lucky to have seen him play, meet him and get his autograph.
That’s my story. Thanks for listening.
Craig Evans, Milltown, N.J.
George and Hank
Our son, Aaron Brett, was born on May 26, 1977. This was the beginning of an era in KC baseball with the Royals coming off the first of what would be three straight AL West championships ... while at the same time, Henry “Hank” Aaron had just completed an historic career, ending with a then-record 755 home runs. When my wife and I started thinking of a name for our first son, we wanted something different, but also something he would think was a great name as he grew older, as well as a name he could be recognized by for the rest of his life. We chose Aaron Brett, and I would hope our son will always be proud to relate this story to his sons, and hopefully his grandchildren, in the future.
Jerry Holder, Kansas City
How about some love for Ken?
I remember going to a Royals baseball game when George Brett was a young player just up from the minors. He came up to bat and was intentionally walked. We thought it was a sign of respect for a young player — and hopefully, the beginning of a great career.
While trying to decide upon a name for our first child, my husband and I agreed on “Brett,” because we felt sure he would be a wonderful baseball player. Our Brett would be amazed at how many people called out his name when he was at a Royals game wearing “his” name on the back of a jersey. We even have an autographed photo of George Brett holding our crying son Brett at the opening of a Pizza Hut in Independence, where we received a signed ball from Frank White and Amos Otis. Our son did become a wonderful baseball player and wore number 5 on his high school jersey.
One night, while attending a Royals game, my husband spoke to Ken Brett, who was watching his brother, George, play baseball. When he mentioned to Ken we had named our son after George, he harrumphed, “You mean after ME.” So, perhaps we named our son Brett after the whole Brett family. We also had four sons, all of whom played baseball and still love the game.
Chasm of understanding
My son, Tyler Brett, was of course named after George Brett. In fact, Brett was such a big name in our household that when we visited the Royal Gorge, my youngest daughter was expecting to see Royal George.
Vicki Potter, Emporia, Kan.
A fan from Springfield
I grew up in Springfield, Missouri. I didn’t attend my first MLB game until 1984, when I was 14 yrs old, and fortunately, it was at Royals Stadium. I became a diehard Royals fan, particularly after the 1985 World Series. George Brett was my favorite, and although I didn’t get to watch many games, I listened to Fred and Denny call them and I learned a lot about baseball by “watching” it on the radio. I just happened to see the “Pine Tar Game” on TV, and even though George Brett was already my favorite baseball player, he became even more so that day!
As a young man, I moved to Houston, and as tough as it was in the ’90s, I still followed the Royals. Knowing that Brett’s last year was in 1993, I purchased two tickets for the final game of the season that just happened to be at the old Arlington Stadium on a cool 90 degree October evening in Texas. My other ticket went unused (I still have it), but I sat and watched that game by myself (and was a little upset that Nolan Ryan, who was also retiring, wasn’t pitching due to an injury). I decided that night that I’d do anything possible to see my childhood hero inducted into the Hall of Fame someday.
On July 23, 1999, I married my sweetheart. Somehow, I was able to talk her into going to Cooperstown, N.Y., for our honeymoon. Guess what happened in Cooperstown on July 25th that same year? George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount were all inducted into the Hall and I was there (along with my bride) to witness the whole thing. As of July 23, 2013, I will have been married to my wife for 14 years — ironically, that’s the 14-year anniversary of George Brett being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I don’t know which date causes me to remember the other.
I wasn’t able to convince my wife to name our first-born son after George Brett, although we did name a German Shepherd after Bo Jackson — but by the time son number 2 came around, it was a no-brainer. Our Brett was born on November 21, 2003, and is now 9 years old. He doesn’t realize it, but if he was a girl, his name would have been Brettney! Brett is a big Royals fan, just like his dad and brother. Needless to say, we have watched some old games with George Brett. The “Pine Tar Game” is still a favorite; we watched the entire game earlier this year. Our tradition is to go to Opening Day at The K each year with my dad and as many of my seven siblings as possible. This past year, all eight of us were able to attend Opening Day, but only one of us named our kid Brett!
Steve Gallo, Nixa, Mo.
A girl named Brett!
I’m an agriculture journalist, and I write for the Hutchinson News. Journalism, however, wasn’t my first choice of profession.
While most in my second-grade class were contemplating occupations teachers and firefighters, I wanted to be a professional baseball player and play alongside George Brett — my favorite player.
This was probably about 1985 — the same year the Royals won the World Series. A boy in my class crushed my dream, however, telling me that girls can’t play baseball.
Anyway, I always wanted to name one of my children Brett — and preferably a girl. I know Brett is not a typical girl’s name, but it is a girl’s name.
In 2007, my husband John Young and I had twins. Of course, we named one Brett. The other is Kaci. My husband is a Braves fan and picked out Kaci’s name. I didn’t tell him until after she was born that Kaci also stands for the KC Royals. If he had known, he might have named her Chipper.
My girls are now age 6. They have another sister, 2-year-old Jordie (yes, I’m a K-State fan, too, but I just liked the name.) Both are Royals fans, and little Brett already is a George Brett fan, although she doesn’t quite understand just how great of player he really was, although she has seen videos of the famous pine tar incident.
I always wondered how many Bretts are in Kansas/Missouri — and if many are girls.
And ... action!
In answer to your question about naming our child after George Brett: This Summer, I got to throw out the first pitch at a Royals game to my son Brett, who I named after George Brett. I always wanted to be a major league player, but it turns out being an actor is what got me on the field at Kauffman Stadium. Throwing the pitch to my son (who was wearing my KC helmet from when I was a boy) was an amazing moment.
Gregg Binkley, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
George was always someone I looked up to growing up in southeast Kansas. I would go to all the Royals caravans at Bank IV in Coffeyville hoping George would be on that trip. I can remember listening to Denny and Fred and would tape his at-bats hoping he would do something special. I can remember watching the 1985 World Series while at my sister’s birthday party and thinking how awesome it would be to know George and not caring at all that it was my sister’s birthday.
Brett and I actually got to meet George on a caravan that came through Manhattan and I was in awe of a man that hadn’t played in 18 years. I chit-chatted with Joe Randa and Joel Goldberg waiting on the chance to approach him and finally got a picture of George with my son Brett. He joked about his name being Brett too, as I am sure he does with all the kids named Brett he meets. We met him again at The K while on a tour last summer. He was being interviewed for the Bo Jackson special on ESPN and Brett spotted him and went up and shook his hand. My son never saw him play, but to him, he was Dad’s hero and was someone to be looked up to. George responded with his “Hey, that’s my name,” flipped Brett’s cap, and he was off. Highlight of the tour for Brett and I, to be sure.
Tim Carson, Manhattan, Kan.
A naming tradition
Our son was named after George Brett. He is 9, and was born 12/15/03. His name is Brett Thomas Bowers. My husband’s name is Aaron, after Hank Aaron, and his dad is Phil, after Phil Rizzuto. It has become the tradition for the man to name his first-born after his favorite baseball player.
My husband has had the opportunity to go to Fantasy Camp and was on George’s team, a lifetime dream of his.
Our son is very proud of his name and where it comes from and loved it when Daddy came back from fantasy camp with stories about his namesake. He has an autographed ball and picture as well.
Our son’s plan is for his own son to be named Billy (after Billy Butler), although we still don’t know if Billy Butler’s name is William or Billy. Whatever it is, that is what he plans to name his firstborn, as Billy Butler is his all-time favorite player!
Paula and Aaron Bowers
My son, Brett Loving, was born Aug. 18, 1999, just weeks after George was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I grew up in Kansas City in the 1970s and 1980s. Obviously, that meant I was a Royals fan. And George was always my favorite.
From the time I was old enough to even think about having kids, I knew my first son would be named Brett. It took a little convincing for my wife.
She was against at first. She didn’t like the idea at all. But after listening to George’s Hall of Fame speech she changed her mind.
Brett, who turns 14 next month, had a rough entry into the world. He spent his first two weeks in intensive care. While he was in the hospital, a friend got word to George and his wife — who is from Wichita, where we live — about my son. They sent us flowers with a great note. It was an amazing gesture from someone who I grew up admiring. And it’s something I will never forget.
Dan Loving, Wichita
King of the Bretts
My son, Kaden Brett King, was born on Dec. 27, 2000, and was named after my childhood hero.
When I was 5, in 1980, I got my first pack of baseball cards. Thumbing through them, my dad came across a George Brett card. “This guy’s good,” he said. “And he plays for the Royals. They are in Missouri.” From that time on, Brett was my favorite player and the Royals my favorite team.
I grew up in Seneca and have never left southwest Missouri, having spent all of my adult life in Neosho. My son loves the Royals passionately. Somehow, in spite of all the losses, like his dad, he knows the Royals ARE the best team. He has always slept with a George Brett poster above his bed.
He loves baseball. His dream is to play for the Royals. Of course, this is hardly a surprise — one of the first words he was taught by his father was “Royals.”
Whether or not this 12-year-old realizes it, his dreams-to-date are all the result of a pack of baseball cards.
The Kings, Neosho, Mo.
The Western star
It was 1985 and we were expecting our first child in late June of that year. I grew up in KC and moved away to Austin, Texas, in 1974, when I was 20. I was, and still am, a diehard royals fan, having suffered through the playoff loses to the damn Yanks in ’76, ’77, and ’78. And then, finally, a World Series in 1980, where we did not play that well and lost to the Phillies, where the overrated Mike Schmidt got all the headlines over Brett.
So, 1985 (hmm, how were the Royals that year?), we were trying to come up with first child’s name and were looking through the TV listings in the newspaper and saw a Western (movie) about Bret Maverick. Hey, Bret, that’s a cool name for some reason? And I watched and liked the movie. My wife (a Texan) liked the name Bret, too. So, we agreed on Bret if it was a boy, and lo and behold it was. Then, when it was time to fill out the official birth certificate, with the Royals making a playoff run, a thought somehow came to me — doesn’t Brett sound a little better than Bret? So, I added another “t” to the name and William Brett Overesch it was.
We always called my son Brett, and people in Texas would ask when they found out I was a Royals fan: ‘Did you name him after George Brett?’ I would always say, ‘No, we actually named him after Bret Maverick!’
It’s agreed: It’s Brett
George Brett was my favorite player growing up, and I’m a big baseball fan. I always said if I had a son, I would name him Brett. So when my wife had our son, I wanted to name him Brett, which my wife agreed to. Unfortunately, he was born with a heart problem that does not allow him to play sports. But at least he has the name.
Mike Freisberg, Eudora, Kan.
George Brett was my childhood hero. Even though I was right-handed, I always tried to copy his swing. From a young age, I vowed to name my firstborn son “Brett.” When I started dating my wife, I told her (didn’t ask) my first son would be named Brett — this was non-negotiable. She didn’t offer any resistance, and now we’re blessed with 12-year-old named Brett Steven Roose. He is named after my two heroes — George Brett and my dad Steven.
Dan Roose, Pella, Iowa
Brett with a ‘J’
I was born on July 23, 1981, and my parents named me after George Brett. My name was Brett James Schnakenberg, or so I thought. I was 26 and I went to the Secretary of State in Michigan (DMV) to discover that my Social Security card and birth certificate read Brett J Schnakenberg. Officially, my middle name is just J. I assume they abbreviated it and didn’t realize that was the official name. My parents thought it would be great to call me BJ as a nickname, but I hated it and it never took. There are several Bretts from that era, and I’m proud to be one of them. I just had my son in April. We went with Dante. Dante Hall still has some records, right? ;-)
More than coincidence?
My son was named after George Brett, he will be 12 on August 5th. He was born in Jefferson City, Mo., and weighed 5 lbs, 5 oz. at birth. His full name is Brett David Boren. My favorite baseball player was George Brett and my favorite team, of course, is the Royals.
On the day that Brett was born, I received a call from (former Royals GM) Allard Baird because I had been on a forum board complaining about the trade of Jermaine Dye and found the email address and emailed the front office and complained about the trade. Anyway, that afternoon Allard called me from a cellphone (he was on a scouting trip in Kentucky or Tennessee) and we chatted for a few minutes, and then later that evening, Brett was born. All of this is a true story. Brett was born at 7:50 p.m., see all the coincidences of No. 5? Brett now plays Little League and he is left-handed; everyone in my family and my ex-wife family are right-handed.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
John Boren, South Williamsport, Pa.
Almost McRae instead
Yes, my youngest son’s name is Brett, and he was born in 1976, the year George won his first batting title, but we’ve been teased over the years that if that last hit hadn’t dropped in to left field, our son would be McRae Barash instead of Brett Barash.
I live just outside Richmond, Virginia. In the late ’70s, I spent a couple of years in the KC area growing up and became a huge Royals fan. George was my favorite player right up until he retired. When we found out my wife was pregnant with my third son, I started telling her that I was going to name him after George Brett. I harassed her that George was a great name for a little boy — but she wasn’t buying it. So we starting thinking about it and Brett really sounded better. Nineteen years later, he knows the history of his name and embraces it. He still wears No. 5 when we play softball together on my men’s team. It reminds me of him as a little boy. As a coach, I got to pick whether the boys put first names or last names on their pee-wee baseball jerseys. I picked first names for obvious reasons.
Thanks for this walk down memory lane.
David and Tina Peat
Waiting pays off
I grew up idolizing George Brett, as many kids my age did. My brother and I built a Royals backstop in our backyard in Jewell, Kan., and played neighborhood games while wearing an old cotton jersey with “Brett” and No. 5 on the back. We painted the backstop powder blue with No. 5 and Royals on it. It stood for nearly 20 years, about 10 after I went to college. I collected every Brett baseball card I could find, along with many others, and always knew his stats.
When I was 12, friends of my parents who belonged to the stadium club invited us to a game on a Sunday afternoon (Jewell is a 4-hour drive). George always parked just outside of the club on Sundays for some reason. I dressed up for the club and stood next to his car, a silver Mercedes, after the game for about an hour along with about 20 other fans and watched the door from the stadium like a hawk. Then, I said, “Dad, there’s George.” My dad had no time to reply as I ran to meet George. My dad had warned me that George may be grumpy, as he went 0-for-4 that day and struck out twice. I didn’t care.
I got to George and said, “Mr. Brett, may I please have your autograph?” He said, “Sure, but I don’t know why you want it after my performance today.” He just got done signing and my dad arrived with the camera and asked for a picture with me. George said, “Come here,” as he put his arm around me and pulled me to his side. I can’t describe how elated I was at that moment. My hero just got elevated in my eyes. Looking back, I know he could see how important that moment was to me and I was lucky, as I’m the only picture he took as he left. From that moment on, I knew my son would be named Brett. George provided me with a lot of childhood memories and captivated my imagination every time I picked up my glove, until I realized my talents weren’t going to get me paid.
I attended the Royals’ 10-year World Series reunion ceremony at Crown Center in 1995 with my young son to try and get a picture with George and his namesake, but we couldn’t get close enough. Anyway, my son never saw him play, but trust me, he’s done his homework, and if you ask him who the best third baseman in MLB is, he will tell you “George Brett.”
Brad Shelton, Tonganoxie, Kan.
Born in 1980
My son Brett was in fact named after George Brett. He was born in 1980, the year George Brett hit .390.
The good ol’ days
Our son, Brett, was born October 23, 1989. We didn’t want to find out the sex of the baby, but there was one thing for certain: If the baby was a boy, there was no other name discussed besides Brett! His dad (Tony Henderson) played baseball since he was a young boy, and even though he grew up 5 hours away in LuVerne, Iowa, his family would come down to KC to see the Royals play. The George Brett pine tar game was also on his dad’s birthday back in 1983.
I worked at the Royals’ stadium back in the good ol’ days. I was a usherette on Club Level from 1979-81. It was the best job to have as a teenager. I loved working out there and meeting all of the fans. Prior to that, my family would attend games in Suite 218 (Home Savings). We were lucky enough to have George Brett and Jamie Quirk come up to the suite one night after a game, and George’s mom and stepdad were also there. George also did some advertising for Home Savings during that time, too. When Brett was only a young baby, we attended an autograph signing and George decided that he would try to hold him even though he said that he had never held a baby before. I have included the picture of Brett and George meeting for the first time and also a picture of George’s mom with my brother (Dan Cavanaugh) in Suite 218.
With all of those connections, is there any wonder that our son was named after George Brett?
Thanks for letting me walk down memory lane. :)
A year to remember
1980 was such a magical year. It was a year of excitement following George Brett’s chase for .400 as well the anticipation of our first-born son.
On Aug 1, George was hitting right at .400 and our baby boy was born. Having followed the Royals since their beginning, and being the great baseball fan, there wasn’t any choice but to name him after my two favorite players.
Brett Ryan arrived in time to see a World Series that year, but I don’t think he remembers much of it.
We sent an announcement to the Royals, and they sent us a George Brett photo for our baby book.
Thirty three years later, we still love our Bretts.
Thank you writing this article.