It was Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees, and the Royals were down a run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning when Brett came up to bat.
He hit it out off Goose Gossage, bringing home U.L. Worthington from first base and taking the lead, 5-4.
But then Yankees manager Billy Martin came out of the dugout, and successfully argued that Brett's bat had pine tar smeared too far up the barrel. Home plate umpire Tim McClelland called Brett out, ending the game in a Yankees win.
But not before Brett charged at him in dramatic fashion, having to be dragged off the field by the other umpires.
Later, American League President Lee MacPhail overruled McClelland's call, and 25 days after the game began, the Yankees and the Royals retook the field to play the final four outs.
Brett's home run was restored, and though he was tossed from the game for his outburst, the Royals won the game.
Thirty years on, Brett's bat and the ball he hit sit in the Hall of Fame. And Brett says he's proud of having been part of an historic moment.
“It’s a positive thing,” he said. “It’s not a ground ball through my legs or a strikeout. It’s something that I did good. I hit a home run off one of the toughest relief pitchers in baseball, a Hall of Fame guy.”
Brett said he was shocked when he first watched his reaction on tape.
““my protest kind of made it famous. … When I saw the video, I was amazed at my reaction. I couldn’t believe it. I had no clue that I did that.
“I knew I ran out on the field, but... that’s the type of player I was. I wore my emotions on my sleeve. I played hard. When a call like that goes against you, you’re going to react.”
"I knew I ran out on the field, but... that’s the type of player I was," he said. "I wore my emotions on my sleeve. I played hard. When a call like that goes against you, you’re going to react."
Brett said he remains friends with Gossage, and has kept in touch with McClelland.
The pine tar rule came about in 1955, when club owners complained the pine tar was damaging too many baseballs.