George Brett Born: May 15, 1953 (Glen Dale, WV)
Graduated: El Segundo (CA) High School, 1971
There are a few things in life you can’t choose. You don’t get to pick who your family is or where you are born. For professional athletes, you don’t get to choose which team drafts you. So, how does a West Virginia born kid who was raised in California and played professional baseball for a team from Missouri get inducted to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame? It’s easy, he chose to.
Of course, the numbers George Brett put up during his Hall of Fame career aren’t in question. He’s consistently mentioned in the argument for the greatest third baseman to ever play the game. No doubt, based on numbers alone, Brett would be a consensus pick to be inducted. The questions were, what makes a Kansan? And is Brett one?
Professional baseball players can live anywhere. They don’t even need a permanent residence in the city where they play anymore. Many only live in that area during the season, keeping houses in their hometowns or in beach communities on the coasts. Brett didn’t. He decided to live in the community where he played and chose to live in the great state of Kansas to raise his family. For nearly forty years, Brett has called our state home and today, we are proud to induct him into our state’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Brett was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of the 1971 Major League Baseball draft following his senior season at El Segundo High School in California. He made his major league debut in 1973 but only played in thirteen games that season. In 1974, Brett’s first full season in the big leagues, he finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
For the next 20 seasons in Kansas City, Brett was a staple in a vaunted Royals lineup and he led the team to two World Series appearances and one world championship in 1985.
Looking through his career statistics, it’s hard to find the high points because of Brett’s consistent excellent level of play. In 1980, Brett was named the American League Most Valuable Player when he flirted with being the first player in nearly half a century to hit over .400 for most of the season. He finished the year with a .390 batting average, 24 home runs, and 118 runs batted in. In 1985, as Brett led the Royals to the organization’s first championship, he compiled a .335 batting average with 38 doubles, 30 home runs, and 112 runs batted in. He also won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award for American League third baseman that year.
His career totals are downright incredible. Brett led the league in at bats twice, hits three times, doubles twice, triples three times, batting average three times, and slugging percentage three times. For his career, Brett compiled 3,154 career hits, 317 home runs, drove in 1,596 runs, stole 201 bases, and was a lifetime .305 hitter. Brett is one of just four players in major league history with over 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, and a .300 batting average, joining the likes of Stan Musial, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Easy to see why he was named to thirteen consecutive All-Star games from 1976 to 1988, won three Silver Slugger Awards, one Gold Glove, three batting titles, one Hutch Award, and one Lou Gehrig Award. Brett won one Most Valuable Player Award, finished second two times, and third once.
Brett announced his retirement following the 1993 season at the age of 40. His #5 jersey was retired by the Royals the following spring in 1994 and he was the first player to earn such honor from the club. Brett was a first ballot Baseball Hall of Fame inductee when he became eligible in 1999.