As George Brett sprinted maniacally toward head umpire Tim McClelland on July 24, 1983, Mickey Cobb and the rest of the Royals staff were left in the dirt of Brett’s cleats as they watched the scene unfold.
Before anyone knew what was happening, Brett was being held back by second base umpire Joe Brinkman as Brett screamed in the face of McClelland.
Just moments earlier, Cobb had been sitting next to Brett, as the players and staff in the dugout commented on the amount of pine tar residue that was caked on Brett’s bat.
The game was, of course, the infamous Pine Tar Game, in which George Brett hit a final out go-ahead home run against the Yankees, before protests about the amount of pine tar on his bat resulted in the home run being deemed invalid by McClelland.
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Thirty-five years on from the incident, former Royals trainer Cobb is set to release a book on the incident, from his point of view in and around the clubhouse and players on the day of the game.
“I wrote my vision, my impression, of what happened that day, 35 years ago,” Cobb told The Star. “And furthermore, I got players who played in that game to make a comment on their memory of what they thought about it, and what they think about it now.”
Cobb was a trainer in and around the Royals organization for nearly 20 years. Starting out at the Royals’ Florida Baseball Academy in 1971, Cobb worked his way up the Royals’ Triple A team at the time, the Omaha Royals, before finally joining the Kansas City Royals’ staff in 1978.
Cobb, 76, worked with the Royals until 1990. He was chosen as a trainer for two All-Star Games during his time working in the major leagues.
Called “Blue Whistler” (after the name of the barrel that is used to store pine tar), the book recounts the use of pine tar in baseball, and of course offers a description of what happened on the day of the Pine Tar Game.
Following a description of how pine tar is made and how it is used in baseball to allow players to have a better grip on their bat, Cobb explains every detail from arriving at Yankee Stadium to the incident in the top of the ninth.
His story follows the path of the bat as it was carried away by a bat boy down the halls of Yankee Stadium in order for the Royals to use it at evidence to protest the game.
Along with a detailed account of the game itself, Cobb wanted to make sure he also made one other thing clear in his book.
“I’ve know George since he was 18, and what I really wanted to portray in Blue Whistler is that George is not crazy or a maniac,” Cobb said. “He was just reacting.”
“In nineteen eighty-three, a player kept in check his emotions and like today was restricted from barely touching an umpire,” Cobb says in the book. “... (B)eing casual to say the least was not, and is not, in Brett’s character.”
Using his ties with the Royals organization, Cobb managed to get interviews from several individuals who were involved with the incident. They include Brett, McClellend and former Royals Gaylord Perry and Leon Roberts.
The book will be released in coming weeks, in the leadup to the 35th anniversary of the on July 24.
“It’s a nice little book,” Cobb said. “It’s a book I think a baseball fan is going to enjoy.”