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This day in sports: George Brett temporarily raises batting average over .400

Kansas City Royals batter George Brett watches his second home run of the night.
Kansas City Royals star George Brett hits a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in October 1985.
(Rusty Kennedy / Associated Press)

It was a royal day for Kansas City’s George Brett when he raised his batting average to .401 on this date in 1980 after going four for four in the Royals’ 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Brett, who had been on a tear for nearly three months, drove in five runs and extended his batting streak to 29 games in a row.

The hit that put the third baseman above .400 was a two-out double in the eighth inning that sailed over left fielder Garth Iorg’s head.

“When I got to .399 today, the adrenaline was flowing,” said Brett. “I knew if I got a hit I’d go over .400 and put the game out of reach. I’ve never hit this well for this long in my life.”

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Over the last two weeks of the season, Brett hit .304 and finished at .390. Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox is the last player to hit .400 for a season when he batted .406 in 1941.

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 17, through the years:

1933 — First baseman Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees played in his 1,308th straight game and broke former Yankee Everett Scott’s record of 1,307. Gehrig singled and tripled but it didn’t stop the last-place St. Louis Browns from beating the Yankees 7-6 in 10 innings at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. Gehrig would go on to play in 2,130 straight games, a record that stood until it was broken by Cal Ripken Jr. on Sept. 6, 1995.

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1938 — Henry Armstrong won the lightweight championship with a 15-round decision over Lou Ambers before 19,216 at Madison Square Garden, and became the only boxer to hold world championship titles in three weight divisions simultaneously. Armstrong won the featherweight title when he KO’d Petey Sarron in the sixth round on Oct. 29, 1937. On May 31, 1938, he won the welterweight championship from Barney Ross by a decision that was so convincing Ross announced his retirement after the fight in the locker room.

1992 — The Dodgers’ Kevin Gross pitched a no-hitter in a 2-0 shutout of the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. The 31-year-old right-hander struck out six and walked two for only his sixth win of the season. It was the 18th no-hitter in Dodgers history and the franchise’s sixth against the Giants.

1997 — Playing the last four holes in a driving rain, Davis Love III fired a 66 in the final round at Winged Foot Golf Club at Mamaroneck, N.Y., and won the PGA Championship by five strokes over Justin Leonard. The victory was Love’s first major title and he clinched it with a 72-hole total of 11-under-par 269. Leonard had just won his first major tournament too, at the U.S. Open by five strokes.

2008 — Jesus Sauceda of Matamoros, Mexico, pitched the fifth perfect game in Little League World Series history and the first in 29 years when he beat Emilia, Italy, 12-0 at South Williamsport, Pa. Sauceda struck out 12 batters and also went three for three, including a grand slam and six runs batted in. The game was stopped after the fourth inning instead of the usual six because of Little League’s 10-run mercy rule.

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2014 — Inbee Park of South Korea successfully defended her crown at the LPGA Championship when she beat Brittany Lincicome with a par on the first playoff hole in sudden death at the Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., near Rochester. Park’s victory ended a majors winning streak of three by U.S. players. Lexi Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco at Rancho Mirage, Michelle Wie was victorious at the U.S. Women’s Open and Mo Martin won the Women’s British Open.

2014 — The Phoenix Mercury set a WNBA record with its 29th win when it toppled the Seattle Storm 78-65 in the season finale. Phoenix (29-5) beat the previous mark set by the Sparks (28-4 in both 2000 and 2001) and Seattle (28-6 in 2010). The Mercury’s home record was 16-1 and its road mark was 13-4, and the team did not have a losing streak the entire season.

2015 — The National Labor Relations Board dismissed a petition that Northwestern University football players were school employees entitled to form what would be the nation’s first union of college athletes. In a unanimous decision that was a clear victory for the college sports establishment, the five-member board declined to exert its jurisdiction in the case and preserved, at the time, one of the NCAA’s core principals: that college athletes are primarily students.

2016 — Elaine Thompson of Jamaica completed the first 100-200 women’s Olympic double since 1988 when she won the 200-meter dash in 21.78 seconds at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Thompson was the first woman since Marion Jones in 2000 to win both Olympic sprints. Jones’ records, though, were stripped after she admitted using steroids, so Thompson joined in the record book Florence Griffith-Joyner, who starred in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

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Sources: The Times, Associated Press


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