BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE MAJORS : Brett Announces End of 20-Year Career

Associated Press

George Brett, one of the most prolific hitters of all time, announced as expected Saturday that he will retire from playing after the season and become a vice president of the Kansas City Royals.

Brett has played his entire 20-year career for Kansas City, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season.

Brett, who joins Nolan Ryan as a longtime veteran finishing a glorious career this year, debated a long time last winter before deciding to play in 1993, the option year of a five-year contract.

His power numbers this year--17 homers and 68 runs batted in--had tempted him to play a 21st season, although his batting average had been in the .265 range most of the year.

Brett goes out as a career .307 hitter and a certain Hall of Famer.

He is one of four players in the history of baseball to get 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and 200 stolen bases. The others are Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Dave Winfield.

Brett is the only player to win a batting title in each of three decades.

His 3,000th hit came in the final week of last season against the Angels at Anaheim, before a gathering of family and friends. But Brett is also remembered for the July 24, 1983, pine tar incident in Yankee Stadium. An enraged Brett charged umpires who disallowed his potential game-winning homer when Billy Martin pointed out an obscure rule.

On Aug. 17, 1980, in Royals Stadium--now called Kauffman Stadium in honor of the late owner with whom Brett often feuded--Brett doubled to push his average to .401. He was at .400 on Sept. 19 that year before finishing at .390, the highest average of any player in this half century.

"He's an amazing guy," said John Wathan, who played with and managed Brett and now is a coach with the Angels. "How he played the game. He played hard. All the big games that he had. It's hard to pick one game out. The pine tar game. The race for .400. He's the type of guy you wish could play forever."

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San Francisco Giant second baseman Robby Thompson, who suffered a broken left cheekbone when struck by a pitch Friday night, has an outside chance of returning to action by next weekend. "A lot will depend on the swelling and his pain tolerance," Giant trainer Mark Letendre said. Thompson is batting .314 with 19 home runs. . . . Giant left-hander Bud Black, sidelined since early August because of a sore left elbow, underwent surgery to repair a tendon in his pitching arm.

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