MLB Network's "Brett" documentary. MLB Network’s “Brett” documentary. (MLB Network on YouTube.)

James Potocki has a particular appreciation for George Brett’s Hall of Fame baseball career. Not only is he one of the producers of the new MLB Network Presents documentary titled Brett, he was in attendance for the infamous Pine Tar Game.

A then 9-year-old Potocki was at Yankees Stadium with his father in July 1983 when an enraged Brett sprinted out of the dugout after his go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth inning was negated due to Brett having too much pine tar on his bat. It remains one of the most iconic images in baseball.

“I’ll never forget it,” Potocki, a producer on the documentary, the 10th he’s been involved with in the MLB Network Presents series, told Awful Announcing in a recent interview. “My dad tells me it was the first Yankee game I ever went to. That’s some Yankee game to go to for your first game. We always thought that we would spend a full act on the Pine Tar game. It’s a story that people have seen and heard a lot. I’d like to think that our addition (to this story) was a little unique, of course.”

The 90-minute documentary spends ample time on that moment. But it is also meant to give viewers a better understanding of the 13-time All-Star, three-time batting champion, former American League MVP, and World Series champion.

Long before Patrick Mahomes was even born, Brett was THE Kansas City icon. The Royals infielder was one of America’s most famous athletes, playing America’s most popular sport. Brett was a fan favorite not only because of his overall excellence but because of his engaging and passionate personality. He endured himself to a generation with his sense of humor and storytelling.

That aspect shines through in Brett. But Potocki and coordinating producer Jed Tuminaro also wanted to illuminate some of the darker moments of Brett’s journey.

Hitting a baseball is difficult and at times, so was being George Brett.

“Maybe people will be surprised,” Potocki said. “It looks like George Brett had this picture-perfect career in life and baseball. But it’s not as easy as that. There are complications. He had plenty of conflicts in his life that he had to navigate through. Hopefully, people will appreciate that when they watch this.”

One aspect that stands out is Brett’s descriptions of his father. His frankness while discussing growing up in a dysfunctional environment is jarring.

“As people will see in the documentary, Potocki had a very difficult relationship with his father,” Potocki said. “He discussed that openly.”

For Tuminaro, Brett’s admissions were a revelation that was in stark contrast to what many saw on the field. He said Brett’s willingness to discuss his father was what drew him to the documentary.

“He’s very funny,” Tuminaro said. “He’s very charismatic. He’s an excellent athlete. He’s had so much success. And you just don’t know the complexities behind what we see. But for me, it was the relationship that he had with his father. And not just as a young kid, but how much it affected him throughout his entire life, right up until the present day.”

Brett packs in quite a bit of information over 90 minutes. It did make room for some of the funnier stories, including his bout with hemorrhoids during the 1980 World Series. The incident prompted many jokes and puns. Even the self-deprecating Brett said: “My pain is all behind me.”

Brett now works in the Royals’ front office as vice president of baseball operations. There’s a statue of him outside of Kauffman Stadium. Potocki and Tuminaro hope the audience sees beyond Brett the baseball Hall of Famer.

“For me, it’s not just on the field, but also off the field as well,” Tuminaro said. “I think that if we had just done a baseball show, and kept this to 100%, baseball, it would be very good. It would be really entertaining. But I think what makes it a special one is just how interesting and compelling a person George Brett is off the field—as a person, as a son, a father, a husband. I hope that that comes through to the viewer.”

Brett debuts tonight (Thursday, Dec. 7) on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.