Instead, just about everybody remembers it.
The attendance that July day was 33,944, even though hundreds of thousands of people claim to have been there. Both teams were in contention — the Royals would finish second in the AL West, the Yankees third in the East — and had developed quite the bitter rivalry.
Throw in the cast of characters — the irascible Martin, Brett and Gossage — and it's hardly a surprise that an entirely new generation knows every vivid detail.
"It you play for the Kansas City Royals, you know about George and the pine tar," said Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who wasn't born until five years later. "He loves it, though."
He certainly didn't love it at the time.
"That just shows you his intensity," said current Royals manager Ned Yost, who was a backup catcher for the Brewers in 1983. "It shows you the type of player he was."
The Royals immediately appealed McClelland's decision, and in one of the rare instances in baseball history, it was overturned four days later. American League president Lee MacPhail ordered the game to be finished on Aug. 18, and the Royals won 5-4 with Brett's homer the difference.
To ensure there were no hard feelings, Brinkman sent Brett a telegram on the day the decision was overturned that read, "Congratulations on the news today. Looking forward to seeing you."
Brett's relationship with McClelland has also grown tight. They occasionally see each other at the ballpark, and McCelland still wonders what Brett would have done had he not been held back.
"I always say George wasn't very smart," McClelland said, "because he's running out at me and I'm 6-foot-6 and I weighed 250 pounds and I have protective equipment on and a bat in my hand."
McClelland fondly recalled the pine tar game during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday night in Houston, shortly before he worked a game between the Astros and Athletics.