This Date In Royals History – October 8, 1980
Back to the playoffs we go, and in this instance the 1980 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. For longtime Royals fans this series still ranks just a notch below winning the 1985 World Series, that’s how monumental it is the history of the franchise.
On Wednesday, October 8, 1980, the ALCS got underway with Game One at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. Having the heartache of the three previous battles with the Yankees still fresh in their minds, Royals fans and perhaps even the players themselves were anxious but excited about getting another shot at New York.
The Yankees scored first with back-to-back HRs by Rick Cerone and Lou Piniella in the second inning. But whatever doubt that inauspicious start had let creep in was quickly dispatched with a Frank White two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning and another by Willie Aikens in the third. Kansas City then took charge with a solo HR from George Brett in the seventh and Frank White capped it off with his second two-RBI double of the game in the eighth.
Larry Gura weathered the storm of the early HRs and went on to throw a complete game scattering 10 hits to capture the 7-2 win. The Royals were off and running. But they had won Game One in 1978 by the same score only to lose the series in gut wrenching fashion. Everyone had high hopes that 1980 was just bound to different. Would the third time be the charm? You know the story by now – of course it would…
Just A Bit More: This was also Dick Howser’s first playoff game as a major league manager. Although in 1980, the Royals Hall of Famer was in the other dugout. In fact Game One of the 1980 ALCS was the first of eleven straight playoffs losses for Dick Howser. That 0-11 record would weigh on Howser until another significant game in Royals history – Game 3 of the 1985 ALCS against Toronto.
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)