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  • Billy Martin and Jurisprudence: Revisiting the Pine Tar Case

    Almost thirty years ago, Hall-of-Famer George Brett accomplished an unenviable feat: he hit a “game-losing home run.” Acting upon an objection from the manager of the opposing team, the umpires called Brett “out” after he had smashed a home run that put his team ahead in the ninth inning. He was the final out of the contest. Brett had hit the ball with a bat that had been smeared with too much pine tar, and the umpires concluded that the rules of Major League Baseball dictated the penalty. However, after Brett’s team protested the decision, the American League president overruled the judgment of the umpires (the Brett Decision). This series of events (the Pine Tar Case) has come to be identified as a classic conflict between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.