The 1983 New York Yankees season was the 81st season for the Yankees….as the team finished in third place in the American League Eastern Division with a record of 91-71….finishing 7 games behind the Baltimore Orioles….as the Yankees were managed by Billy Martin….playing their home games at Yankee Stadium.
During the off-season prior to the 1983 campaign….the Yankees sold Bobby Ramos to the Montreal Expos….signed OF Don Baylor as a free agent by the Yankees….traded Dave Collins, Mike Morgan, Fred McGriff and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Dale Murray and Tom Dodd….then traded OF Lee Mazzilli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Tim Burke, Don Aubin (minors), John Holland (minors), and Jose Rivera (minors). On January 11, 1983, Ozzie Canseco was drafted by the Yankees in the 2nd round of the 1983 Major League Baseball Draft….then on February 24, 1983, they signed free agent SS Bert Campaneris….and then released Rowland Office and John Mayberry.
During the season on June 11, 1983….longtime Yankee OF Bobby Murcer played in the last game of his career….and on the same day….he became part of the Yankees Broadcasting Team for WPIX TV. On July 4, 1983….P Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox. On August 4, 1983, Dave Winfield, while warming up before the 5th inning of a game at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium….accidentally killed a seagull with a thrown ball. He doffed his cap in mock sorrow….as fans responded by hurling obscenities and improvised missiles. After the game, he was brought to the Ontario Provincial Police station on charges of cruelty to animals….and was forced to post a $500 bond before being released. Quipped Yankees manager Billy Martin, “It’s the first time he’s hit the cutoff man.” ….as the charges were dropped the following day. For years afterward Winfield’s appearances in Toronto were greeted with loud choruses of boos, but he later became a fan favorite. However, on July 24, 1983 was the day that the baseball bat used by Kansas City Royals 3B George Brett was involved in what became known as the Pine Tar Incident.
Playing at New York’s Yankee Stadium….the Royals were trailing 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth….with Royals U L Washington on first base….while in the on deck circle….George Brett was heard remarking to a teammate….”Watch this baby fly” as he shook his bat. He then came to the plate and connected off Yankee reliever Rich “Goose” Gossage for a two-run home run and a 5-4 lead. As Brett crossed the plate, New York manager Billy Martin approached home plate umpire Tim McClelland and requested that Brett’s bat be examined. Earlier in the season, Martin and other members (most notably, third baseman Graig Nettles….who as a member of the Minnesota Twins….recalled a similar incident involving Thurman Munson) of the Yankees had noticed the amount of pine tar used by Brett….but Martin had chosen not to say anything until the home run. With Brett watching from the dugout….Umpire McClelland and the rest of the umpiring crew inspected the bat….while measuring the bat against the width of home plate (which is 17 inches)….and determining that the amount of pine tar on the bat’s handle exceeded that allowed by Rule 1.10(b) of the Major League Baseball rule book….which read that “a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle…and the rest has become document baseball history.