For all of George Brett’s fame as one of the greatest hitters of all time, this one image is what I will always remember most about him. The Kansas City Royals were on their way to their first American League West title in 1976. They won their division by only 2.5 games over the Oakland A’s. During that season every game proved critical.
On September 19, 1976, the Royals trailed the Chicago White Sox 5-0 early in the game at Royals Stadium. By the bottom of the eighth inning, Kansas City had clawed their way back to tie the game 5-5. With one out, Brett lined a single to left on one of his classic take the ball the other way strokes. Hal McRae followed with a ground ball setting up a sure inning-ending double play ball. That is until Brett’s hard slide into Bucky Dent at second base prevented a throw to first base to complete the double play.
After a wild pitch, a walk and another wild pitch, Al Cowens singled to drive in McRae with the winning run. Steve Mingori closed out the White Sox in the ninth for the victory.
Consider that Brett ran so hard to second base and began his slide so late that he connected with Dent at the bag and drove him towards left field. When I think of the great Royals teams from 1976 through 1985, that effort epitomized the give-everything attitude that made George Brett and the Royals amazing. Period.