Brettâ€™s family cautious about his return to dugout
JUN 04, 2013 5:52p ET
George's wife, Leslie, was on a girls-only trip to Chicago last week when her husband broached the subject with her again.
"When he called me on Wednesday and said the Royals had asked him again," Leslie told FOXSportsKansasCity.com, "I didn't really think much about it. I was with my girlfriends having a good time and I just kind of figured he'd say no again."
But then George said something to Leslie that got her wondering if this time he might actually be serious about taking the job.
"He just said he was looking around our house with everything in it and he said, 'You know, everything we have is because of the Royals. We've had a very happy life and we have a lot of nice things, and it's all because of baseball and because I worked for the Royals,' " Leslie said. "That kind of stuck with me. I think that's when I thought he might really do it."
Still, Leslie didn't think anything was going to happen immediately. She turned her thoughts back to shopping on Chicago's famous Michigan Avenue and hanging out with her pals.
And then …
"It's kind of typical George, but he calls me back the next day and says, 'Hon, I'm driving to St. Louis with (general manager) Dayton (Moore),' " Leslie said. "And I just went, 'Oh my God! You're going to do this! You're really going to do this!'
"The first thing I thought about was our kids and our dogs. Our two oldest boys are home for the summer so I said, 'George, you're really going to let two college-age kids alone in the house for three days? Really?' And he just said, 'Don't worry. I've threatened them with their lives if they do anything wrong. And I've taken the dogs to the groomers. Everything's fine. They'll all be fine.'
"And off he went to St. Louis."
And at least part of the Brett family remains skeptical that George is all in.
"Well, I don't think he'll like it," said Dylan, who will be a sophomore at Kansas this fall.
Robin, the youngest of the three boys who will be a senior at Shawnee Mission East, is on a school trip to Europe. He got the news from Leslie in a text message.
"Robin texted me back right away, 'Mom, this is just for the home games, right?' " Leslie said.
Jackson, the oldest son who will be a junior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., also is a ball boy for the Royals this summer. He instantly recognized the practical side of his father becoming the Royals' new hitting coach.
"Well, I guess we can car pool now, right?" Jackson asked his dad.
There is no doubt, however, in Leslie's mind that George is committed to his new role.
"He really wants to help," she said. "I can tell you he is just as frustrated as any fan is. He wants to do anything he can to turn this around. I mean, it's only June. There's a lot of season left.
"My only question was how long he wanted to do this. He said, 'I don't know. Maybe a month. Maybe all summer.' And I said, 'OK, George, but we've got plans we'd have to change. We've got a vacation with the kids in August and then we're supposed to go to France as a couple in September.'
"And he said, 'I know, I know. But I'm thinking I really need to do this.' "
There are other concerns for Leslie as well, such as her husband's legacy as the greatest Royal of all time. No one wants to see that legacy tarnished by failure at the new job, which, in theory, would then put the Royals in the unenviable position of perhaps having to dismiss a legend.
"That won't happen," Leslie said. "George wanted to make sure everyone understood this was an interim job. I know that before anything like that happened, he would step away. He would see it coming."
George, though, said he isn't worried that much about his legacy.
"No, because at least I can say I went down swinging," George said Tuesday. "You know, Ned (Yost) thought I could do this. Dayton thought I could do this. Evidently, ownership thought I could do this.
"They called me two straight days last week. So if they felt that adamant that I should do it, then hey, I'm here. I'm here to help.
"Now, I will say that if I don't do a good job, I should retire. But if I do a good job, I should stay on. If I do a good job, I could see going on all summer."
However, Leslie hopes fans won't expect instant gratification.
"I just hope they don't think he's some kind of savior," she said. "He's not going to turn it around in 30 days. I mean, we're all hoping he can do some things to help.
"Maybe this will somehow kind of fire up the team. I hope it will give them a spark. I hope that what he can teach will translate to them today. He's told me before he's not a technical type instructor. To him, the game is about 90 percent mental. That's why I hope he can have long talks with them, especially the younger guys."
The ability to connect with the younger players definitely is on George's mind, according to long-time friend Ed Molotsky.
"I knew he was really excited and interested this time around," Molotsky said. "When he first started talking about it he was so excited and so intent, I kind of just stopped him and said, 'Have you checked with the boss (Leslie) about this?' And he said, 'Of course I have.' I think she's OK with it.
"And then he looked at me and said, 'You know, I have been out of the game a long time. Do you think they'll even listen to me?' And I said, 'Why wouldn't they?' "
Molotsky then watched the Cardinals-Royals game Wednesday night at George's house and the conversation continued.
"I just got the sense that he was frustrated like any other fan about the team and he wanted to do something about it," Molotsky said. "George cares a lot about the Royals. And I think he feels he owes it to the Royals to try and do something about it.
"He likes Dayton a lot and those guys around Dayton. Dayton has asked him before and he always said the time wasn't right. But this time, his heart told him he couldn't say no."
Leslie sensed that, too, and that's why she's supporting his decision even if it turns her into a baseball widow again. They began dating in 1990, and married in 1992 – all before George retired in 1993 – so she can still recall what it's like having a significant other tied to the baseball life.
"I've thought about that," she said. "It's all kind of a flashback. Jackson went and picked him up at the airport after the road trip Sunday and it was like, 'Wow, here we are 20 years ago again, and he's coming off the road.' "
But Leslie, like any other Royals fan, is rooting hard that George can impact the team in a positive manner.
"Maybe it won't be anything he says to them," she said. "With George, he sometimes just willed his way to a hit or willed his team to a win. That's the way he was.
"I just hope some of that willpower can carry over to the team."
George thinks it will.
"This won't happen overnight," he said. "But they will get that feeling they should expect to win. And they will make every team know at the end of the game that they were playing the Kansas City Royals.
"When I was playing, every team knew they had played us, by the way we went into second base hard, or by the way we stretched a double into a triple, or by how we went first to third on a single to left – teams knew they had played the Royals.
"That's what we have to get back. And we will."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at email@example.com.
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