On Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to have some fun on the airwaves in Kansas City with Jeff Logan and Greg Pryor of ESPN Radio 1510. We talked about the hobby and joked around a little but beforehand, I also learned the whereabouts of a nice little piece of baseball history.
Pryor, fans will remember, spent nine years in the big leagues with the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and in Kansas City with the Royals. He had been picked by the Washington Senators in 1971, in the same draft that brought Mike Schmidt and his future teammate, George Brett, to pro ball. He earned a World Series ring with the ’85 Royals.
It was during that last stint in KC when Pryor had played a role in a milestone accomplishment: Brett’s 2,000th career hit.
It’s best just to let him tell the story:
“In ’82, I was traded from the White Sox to the Royals in spring training. George and I were teammates for five full seasons, ’82-’86. I wore number 4 and he was number 5.
On May 25, 1986, we had a Sunday day game vs. the Chicago White Sox at (then) Royals Stadium. In the bottom of the 4th inning, I was sitting in the dugout next to George and he said, ‘Pry, do you have a bat that feels good?’
I told George that Frank White had let me use one of Frank’s bats that I found in his locker. I told George that it was a dark brown bat with tape on the handle. I saw George remove the bat out of the bat rack and take it up to the on deck circle. George never used a dark bat so it was odd to see him take my bat to the on deck circle.
As he normally did, he put a weighted doughnut on the bat and started swinging it to get loose. Outside of George, I was the only person who knew what was going on and, at that time, I had no idea that George had 1,999 hits.
With my dark brown bat, George stroked a single through the infield toward center field. The crowd started screaming more than normal. I looked up at the scoreboard and, to my amazement, I read that George had just recorded his 2,000th hit!
The Royals went on to win the game, 2-1, in 17 innings. George ended up going 1 for 7 in the game but, to add to the irony of him borrowing my bat, because of Dick Howser using pinch-runners and pinch-hitters in the extra inning game, I entered the game in the 14th inning.
Before I hit in the bottom of the 15th inning, I was looking for the bat that George had borrowed and found out that George had broken it on his 2,000th hit.
With a new bat, I got a hit in the bottom of the 15th inning and added another hit in the bottom of the 17th inning to help us win the game.
With one out in the bottom of the 17th, Jim Sundberg hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Jamie Quirk with the winning run.
After the game, as I was heading to my locker from the dugout, I noticed that my bat that was the Brett 2,000th hit bat was sitting just outside of a garbage can. I grabbed it and ran to George’s locker to give him the bat as a memento.
As I handed him the bat, he said that he didn’t like the bat to begin with, that he broke it, and that he didn’t want it. I asked him to sign it to me and he agreed. I ran and grabbed a pen with gold ink and George signed the bat at his locker. I have had it in my possession since that day.”
(Note: When George asked me to borrow my bat to get his memorable hit, it was the first and last time that George ever asked me to borrow my bat.)
Brett, of course, wasn’t anywhere near finished. He flew past 3,000 hits several years later and earned a quick election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And if anyone makes the claim to having the bat he used to reach #2000, you can tell them they’re full of pine tar.