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John Garrity
August 17, 1981
Jack Brett didn't ask too much of his four sons as they grew up—only that they be the best there was in everything they ever did
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August 17, 1981

Love And Hate In El Segundo

Jack Brett didn't ask too much of his four sons as they grew up—only that they be the best there was in everything they ever did

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"It was originally Ken and I," he says, relaxing at home. His arms are draped on the back of a modular couch; sunlight streams in through the sliding glass doors to his deck. "Then it was one-third each, with George in it." He waves a hand to take in the building, including Ken's condo next door. "This little piece of sand is worth $900,000."

Bobby lives in the present tense. The temptation with Ken or George—with any ballplayer—is to dwell on his grand and poignant moments, to apply the sepia tones of myth to his life. Bobby won't stand for that.

"Bobby is a salesman," George says, signifying by a stern look that this is an understatement. "He's always making deals. His great line is 'Look, if you don't buy it, I will. I'm giving you the first chance!' "

"He's the only one my parents put through college," Ken says.

Bobby's friends remember him as a brash child capable of insinuating himself into any desired position. If he had cheap seats to see the Lakers at The Forum, he inevitably ended up courtside. If he went to Dodger Stadium with his dad and brothers, he somehow lied his way into the press box and copped free food and press handouts.

"Bobby's very well organized," Jack says. "When he was 13, he would allocate his time—to sports or to studies. One Saturday morning while we were waiting for breakfast, he was diagraming football plays. I said, 'What are you doing, Bob?' And he said, 'I'm diagraming football plays.' I said, 'Well, don't you know them all?' And he said, 'I'm diagraming every guy's assignment.' That's the way he approached sports. Bobby's a recognized leader."

As befits a leader, Bobby is accorded rank. "We call him The General," John says. "Bobby's always telling everybody what to do. He says, 'O.K., we're going to dinner here!' When Georgie got tickets to Disneyland from the Angels, Bobby said, 'We're going to Adventureland, then Frontierland....' He told us which rides we were going on!" John wasn't surprised to learn that Bobby had ended up with complimentary tickets to the NCAA finals in Philadelphia last March. "That's nothing," he says. "He golfed in the Dinah Shore Open on a freebie from NBC Sports! Here I am, pounding two nails on the red line, and he's out golfing! That's the kind of guy Bobby is. Everybody just follows him around."

They say that Bobby wasn't altogether pleased when he unwrapped the present from his brothers last Christmas: sergeant's stripes.

"There's some tension," observes Royals Outfielder Clint Hurdle. "George tells John how to run his life. He says, 'You're terrible, you're terrible, you're in the streets, you're nothing....' " Hurdle looks amazed. "This is his older brother! This guy's huge. He's beat him up a couple of times!"

Jack Brett didn't want his other sons to follow John's path, and Ken and Bobby hadn't been so inclined. But George? There was a lot of John in George. Even today, when the grown-up George replies to frustration by hitting things...smashing a batting helmet, kicking a door, devastating a dugout washroom with a bat, swatting a photographer with a crutch, breaking glass...his outbursts invite comparison to John.

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