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Renko Gave Bat to Ump

Mystery solved. Steve Renko called. We friends call him Renk. He was a pitcher on the Royals' staff during the 1983 season. Still lives in the Kansas City area, where he grew up and was a standout athlete in several sports at Wyandotte HS in KCK, and in football and baseball at University of Kansas.

Used to kid him, when we did radio together before and after Royals games in the '90s, that he had a hard job as QB at KU - make sure the running back got the ball. A guy they called "The Kansas Comet." Renk was no Gale Sayers (nobody else was no Gale Sayers, ever), but Renk was good enough that the Oakland Raiders drafted him.

But Renko chose baseball. Spent his whole career in the game - pitcher, and coach. Spent 15 years in the major leagues. Retired last year after a few seasons as a minor league pitching coach.

During July '83, Yankees hosting Royals, when all the craziness broke out and resulted in the infamous Pine Tar Game at Yankee Stadium, Renko was on the top step of the dugout. He said after things heated up, suddenly George Brett's bat, the one with all that evil tar on it, came rolling to a stop at his feet after somebody had flung it.

Renk said he started down the steps and into the tunnel to try to smuggle it to the clubhouse, or relay it, to somehow keep the umpires away from it. Didn't work.

"All of a sudden McSherry was there," Steve recalled. "I gave the bat to him. It was chaos all around."

One little slip of the memory in that recollection: The late John McSherry umpired in the National League his entire career. Understandable slip. The first half of Renko's big-league career, he pitched for the Montreal Expos. Then the Cubs - 8 1/2 years in the NL, all told, before finishing with White Sox, A's, Red Sox, Angels, and, his final season, Royals. 

No matter. Point was, couldn't find a story that reported who had the bat last before confiscation by the umpire crew (for the record: Umpires: HP: Tim McClelland, 1B: Joe Brinkman, 2B:Drew Coble, 3B:Nick Bremigan.)[see the entire box score here].

"Yes, I had it," Renko said. If you want to see the bat nowadays, visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y.