Any list of the most aggressive baserunners of the 1970s has to include Hal McRae at or near the top. Every year McRae would become embroiled in some brouhaha with an opposing team after sliding hard into a middle infielder. McRae learned the knockout slide when he was in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and he was also a former football player so he brought that physical intensity with him to the diamond. McRae influenced Kansas City teammates George Brett, Amos Otis, Frank White, and Al Cowens, making the Royals one of the most aggressive baserunning teams of that era.
An unfortunate incident occurred on the final day of the 1976 season when McRae, teammate George Brett and Rod Carew were locked in a tight race for the American League batting title. Brett hit a suspicious inside-the-park-home run when Twins’ outfielder Steve Brye “misplayed” a fly ball to left field late in the contest, a hit that sealed the title for the young third baseman. After the game, McRae, who was stymied in his efforts to win the title by grounding out after Brett’s homer, told reporters he thought Brye had let Brett’s hit fall in because he wanted a white man to win the batting crown. Carew finished at .331, Brett at .333, and McRae was runnerup with a .332 mark. McRae’s comments caused quite a stir but he and Brett never seemed to let them alter their friendship.