Every play that “What famous person would you want to have dinner with” game? Usually people’s answers are great figures in history like Lincoln or Dr. King or maybe Jesus or maybe a funny person like Groucho Marx.
I always answered “Steven Spielberg.” The reason is in interviews he is very thoughtful and open about his own movies and loves to talk about other movies and great directors.
Another answer for me would be George Brett.
As someone whose understanding of baseball evolved in the late 1970s and the 1980s, George Brett was consistently one of the superstars of the game. In fact this Topps Record Breaker Card celebrates that consistency. He became the first to win batting titles in three different decades.
His run with teammate Hal McRae went down to the last day in 1976. He flirted with .400 in 1980, being above the mark as late as September 19th. And then in 1990, he made it three straight decades.
Brett got his 3,000 hits, an MVP in 1980 and batted .305 lifetime. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial have 3,000 career hits and a .300 lifetime average.
He owes a lot of his early success to hitting coach Charlie Lau, who adjusted his swing during his rookie year with the Royals, 1974.
By 1975, he led the league in hits and triples and did so again in 1976, adding a batting title to the mix.
That year he also led the Royals to the AL West title, and he would do so in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1984 and 1985 as well as a Division Series match up in 1981. Twice he hit for the cycle, including once in 1990.
Three times he had the highest OPS total and frequently came up big against the Yankees in the post season.
In 1976, he batted .444 with an OPS of 1.254 in the ALCS. He batted .300 in the 1977 ALCS and hit 3 homers in one game in the 1878 ALCS en route to a 1.444 OPS. His homer off of Gossage in the 1980 ALCS put the Royals into the World Series where he batted .375 with an 1.090 OPS against the Phillies.
His success in October continued in 1985. He hit 3 himers, batted. 348 and hand an OPS of 1.326 against Toronto to win the ALCS MVP and batted .370 as the Royals won their first title over St. Louis.
His lifetime post season batting average was .337 and his OPS was 1.023.
Brett was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 98.2% of the vote.
But there are a lot of superstars from my childhood. Why would I pick Brett to have dinner with? I wasn’t a Royals fan. I didn’t even root for them when they played the Phillies in the 1980 World Series or the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.
Because there is a goofiness to George Brett and a sense of humor about himself that makes me believe sitting with him at dinner would be an evening of great stories and laughter.
He left game 2 of the 1980 World Series with hemorrhoid pain and famously replied the next day “my problems are all behind me.”
Of course he went ballistic in the Pine Tar Game and has a great sense of humor recalling it and seeing it as a funny and positive episode.
There is a sense that he is a big goofy dude who just happens to be a good looking AL Super Star Hall of Famer.
The stories he could tell about the Royals of the 1970’s and 1980’s and the rivalry with the Yankees and other All Stars would be amazing.
And there is no doubt he is itching to tell them (no hemorrhoid pun intended.) Don’t believe me?
OK, the video I am linking below is not safe for work. It is Brett at spring training around 2003 or 2004. He is there instructing the young Royals players. At one point, out of nowhere, totally unprovoked, he tells a hysterical yet disgusting story that I would feel uneasy sharing with my closest friends.
Anyone willing to be THIS open and THIS funny with strangers has got to be a blast at dinner.
I hope Mr. Spielberg doesn’t mind all of the shit jokes.