The 1976 Royals American League Western Division title was made even more sweet as they dethroned Charley Finley’s Oakland A’s. But it was tough down the stretch as a seven game lead on September 21 had fallen to just 2.5 games before the Royals avoided a sweep in Oakland with a 4-0 Larry Gura shutout on September 29. With that win the Royals had clinched no worse than a tie and another Kansas City win or Oakland loss would give them the title.
On Friday, October 1, 1976 the Twins scored a ninth inning run to beat Kansas City 4-3 at Royals Stadium. But many in the crowd of 38,482 stay after the game, as did the entire Royals team to see how the A’s would fare at home against the Angels. That game went scoreless into the 12th inning before Rusty Torres homered and the Angels pushed across another run for a 2-0 win. The Royals were champions!
The same Rusty Torres would play 51 games (his last as a big leaguer) for the 1980 American League Champion Royals. Signed on May 5, 1980, he wouldn’t be around for the clinching date that year as he was released on August 28.
Just A Bit More: The following afternoon* was the famous Cookie Rojas and Fred Patek leap into the rightfield fountains. It was a fool’s errand, not to mention a bit dangerous, as Freddy acknowledged later, “We jumped in there with our cleats and everything on. If he (Royals PR Director Dean Vogelaar) hadn’t had the electricity in the fountains turned off, we could’ve been swimming out there like a couple of dead goldfish.”
* Corrected from original post as the Rojas/Patek plunge followed the Saturday, October 2, 1976 afternoon game at Royals Stadium which was broadcast as the NBC ‘Game of the Week”. The Royals fell to the Twins 3-2, but after a long night of celebration that was understandable.
Whitey Herzog said it best, “Pretty tough to get going this morning, We partied until about 4:30.” Needless to say all of Kansas City was a party zone…