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A Brother's Memories KEN BRETT | 1948-2003

Dec. 01, 2003
Dec. 01, 2003

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Dec. 1, 2003

A Brother's Memories KEN BRETT | 1948-2003

DIED Of brain cancer, former big league lefty Ken Brett, 55. His
14-year career (he went 83-85 with a 3.93 ERA) began with the Red
Sox in '67, the year he became the youngest pitcher to appear in
a World Series. Hall of Famer George Brett recalls the older
brother he called Kemer.

This is an article from the Dec. 1, 2003 issue Original Layout

I might never have become a ballplayer if not for Kemer. It's
easier to make it if someone close to you has made it: You think,
If he can make it, so can I. One summer in high school, I spent a
week with him in Boston. I'd go to the clubhouse, sit in the
dugout, watch batting practice and we'd walk back to his
apartment together, maybe stopping off for a sandwich. I'm sure I
hindered his postgame activities. I mean, he was single in
Boston, Jim Lonborg was his next-door neighbor and he had his
16-year-old brother tagging along. But Kemer didn't mind.

He was as competitive as there was. He was pitching for the
Angels in '77 when he started a fight against my team, the
Royals. Amos Otis was batting with runners on second and third,
and Kemer got the sign to walk him intentionally. Amos was
standing with his bat on his shoulder, and he yelled, "Throw me a
strike, you big p----!" Kemer threw one as hard as he could
behind Amos's head, the ball went to the backstop, and Cookie
Rojas came in from third. My brother ran to the plate to cover
and tackled Cookie, a real Dick Butkus tackle. The dugouts
emptied, Kemer was fighting Amos, and I had to wonder, What do I
do? Try to kick Amos's ass or my brother's? (I ended up standing
around, trying to break things up.) Kemer got tossed, and after
the inning I ran through the tunnel under the stadium to
California's clubhouse. Kemer had scratches all over his neck and
face. I asked what Cookie had done to deserve the tackle. Kemer
said, "At the last second I realized what I had done, and I
didn't want him to score."

He was a great brother and a great husband and if I can do half
as well raising my three kids as he did as a father I'll be
happy. I loved being Kemer's teammate on the Royals, in '80 and
'81. The first game he pitched, he came out of the bullpen, and I
was standing on the mound with Jamie Quirk, our catcher. The gate
in rightfield opened, and out came my brother, running, sticking
his arms out and veering left, veering right like a plane. I said
to Jamie, "Now I know why he's been on 10 teams." Kemer's career
wasn't what we expected. He was arguably the best player in
Southern California in high school. But after he blew out his
elbow in '68 and had surgeries, he was never the same. I never
heard him complain, though. I asked him once, "Aren't you tired
of getting traded?" He said, "Do you know how many places I've
been, how many great guys I've met? I wouldn't trade places with
anyone in the game."

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (KEN BRETT) TOGETHER Ken, who pitched on 10 teams, joined George on a cardand with the Royals.COLOR PHOTO: THE TOPPS COMPANY INC. (BASEBALL CARD) [See caption above]