Brett steals bit of history, keeping K.C. in running

August 30, 1993|By Jonathan Rand | Jonathan Rand,The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- George Brett was not keen on mimicking Rickey Henderson when yesterday's game was stopped in the third inning after Brett stole his 200th career base.

Neither Brett's feet nor feat merited him uprooting second base and thrusting it over his head as a trophy, as did Henderson when breaking the all-time stolen-base record. Besides, that isn't Brett's style.

"Ten a year for 20 years? What's so good about that?" Brett asked after the Kansas City Royals' 5-4, 12-inning victory over Boston.

When a base was brought from the Royals' dugout so Brett could make a switch, he waved it away. Instead, he waved to the crowd.

"The base isn't going anywhere," Brett said. "They change the bases every two or three innings. Why delay the game?

"I don't want to make Danny Darwin stay out there and wait. I have a lot of respect for him as a pitcher and for the Red Sox as an organization, and I don't think that's right."

The Red Sox also showed Brett respect, which he said helped him break a zero-for-10 stretch with his 57th four-hit game. He twice was intentionally walked in the late innings of Saturday's 2-1 loss.

"They showed me a lot of respect, and that gives you a little confidence you may be lacking," Brett said.

"I wasn't swinging the bat well. When the other manager doesn't give you the opportunity to beat him, it relays a message he has a lot of respect for me. I came to the game with probably a lot more confidence than after a normal 0-for-2."

Brett also came with his running shoes on, though he said he missed the steal sign after he singled in the first inning. He did not miss the sign after he walked in the third, however. The base was retrieved by a batboy, and Brett, with only mild interest, in vain looked around his locker for it.

His hustle in the fifth inning, actually, was more pivotal. With the score 2-2, he doubled on a baked-turf bouncer, then scored on Mike Macfarlane's single.

"I hope I've never been accused of dogging it, and that's an example of the way I play," Brett said. "I run everything out and take advantage of the situation."

Brett's 11th-inning single put him on base for the eighth time in nine plate appearances. He long ago learned, though, not to read too much into one bright day. They are tougher to duplicate at age 40 than 37, when he won his last batting title.

"It's encouraging," Brett said.

"I've had four hits before this year and the next day gone out and seemed lost. One thing I was able to do earlier in my career was be consistent for a month or two.

"This year it seems like I'll do it for two or three days, then all of a sudden I lose it for a week or 10 days. Then I get it back for two or three days."

Brett raised his average to .264 and has 14 home runs and 57 RBI. It is a measure of the Royals' offensive desperation that there is talk of him carrying the club in September, though at this stage, his contributions should be considered gravy.

But in a lineup with little meat, he will try to provide more than gravy.

"Now is the time for me, if I'm going to step up and be the guy I have been in the past, to be consistent the rest of the way if we're going to win this thing," Brett said.

Yesterday's win kept the Royals barely on the plus side of staying alive in the AL West race.

Whether it was merely a last-gasp victory will depend, largely, on how many last hurrahs Brett can raise.

BY GEORGE, HE DID IT

The Kansas City Royals' George Brett yesterday stole his 200th base, putting him into an exclusive club of players with 200 steals, 3,000 hits and 300 home runs:

Player .. .. .. SB .. .. .. Hits .. .. .. HR

Hank Aaron .. .. 240 .. .. 3,771 .. .. .. 755

George Brett .. .. 200 .. .. 3,123 .. .. .. 312

Willie Mays .. .. 338 .. .. 3,283 .. .. .. 660

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