July 24, 1983: Umpire Tim McClelland nullifies a potential game-winning home run by the Kansas City Royals' George Brett, citing excessive usage of pine tar on the bat.
In a regular season showdown at Yankee Stadium, the hosts took a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning, and New York brought in Hall of Fame closer Rich "Goose" Gossage.
With two outs and a man on first, fellow Hall of Famer George Brett came to the plate for the Royals, and he delivered in the clutch, taking a high fastball deep to right field to take a 5-4 lead -- or so his team thought.
After Brett had already rounded the bases to score the apparent go-ahead run, Yankees manager Billy Martin started an appeal to McClelland, claiming that Brett's usage of pine tar on his bat exceeded the league's legal limit. McClelland and his fellow umpires examined the bat and concluded that Martin was correct, as McClelland walked over to the road dugout to retroactively call Brett out -- resulting in the final out of the game.
Understandably, Brett was livid, as the third baseman immediately sprinted from his dugout to passionately protest McClelland's decision. Video of the entire incident can be seen here, with Gossage's pitch coming at roughly the thirty second mark and Brett's violent reaction to McClelland starting at around the 1:27 mark (with his words being inaudible due to the announcers' shouts):
The Royals went on to protest the game result, and in an absolute sports rarity, an effective "re-do" was granted. American League president Lee MacPhail reviewed the incident and concluded that Brett's pine tar usage was not giving him an unfair advantage, and he subsequently called for the game to be re-played from the point immediately after Brett scored the game-leading run.
On August 18, 1983, (the next time both teams had a scheduled off day), the game was finally finished in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 1,200. Kansas City closer Dan Quisenberry pitched a scoreless ninth inning as the Royals closed out a 5-4 win.
Despite the fiery emotions at the time, the game ended up being insignificant in the playoff race, as both teams ended up missing the American League postseason. Brett, now 62, later called the incident "the funniest thing that happened in my career."
The bat Brett used was sent to Cooperstown, where it has remained since 1987.