The skinny teenager with the shaggy blond hair didn’t like school much, but he sure loved baseball. That’s all he thought about, really. Baseball and girls, sometimes in that order. But it was all baseball on the day that would forever change his life.
This was Southern California, June of 1971, and the Kiwanis club was honoring the El Segundo High School baseball team. The men there had a hunch, so one of them was in touch with the local paper about that day’s pro baseball draft. At some point, the man stepped behind the microphone and announced that El Segundo’s shortstop, George Brett, had been selected in the second round by the Kansas City Royals.
So much has changed since then, of course. Brett is walking his dogs on a recent summer morning as he talks through it all. About shipping off to the minor leagues in Montana a few days later, eventually getting a surprise call to the big leagues — 40 years ago this week — and the legendary career that followed.
He won an MVP award and World Series, got married, raised three kids here, was elected to the Hall of Fame, built a new home in Mission Hills, and this summer returned to the dugout 20 years after retiring to help out as the Royals’ hitting coach. So many memories are coming back to him. Most of them never left.
Like that June day back in 1971, when he just wanted to see a map.
“I’m going, ‘Where the (hell) is Kansas City?’” he says. “And ‘Who the (hell) are the Kansas City Royals?’”