This Date In Royals History – October 16, 1985
We’ll start today with a weather report – expect cold and blustery Canadian conditions with a 50% chance of a late evening championship. Look for ominous storm clouds to roll in some time in the early third, which will hover until a sudden ‘Sunny’ breakthrough in the sixth.
Wednesday, October 16, 1985 and the Royals and Blue Jays have reached the all of nothing finale – Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. It was the perfect big game match-up with both teams sending their aces to the mound, Bret Saberhagen and Dave Steib, in a winner take all finish. The Royals got on the board first, as they had in each game of the series except the first, with a run in the second.
In the third inning former Royal Rance Mulliniks hit a shot off the leg of Bret Saberhagen and all of Kansas City saw the chance at the World Series flash through their eyes. The ball ricocheted so hard off Bret that Mulliniks was able to reach second base. Saberhagen finished the inning but was lifted in favor of Charlie Leibrandt to start the fourth. The Royals ace was on the bench -the Jays was still on the mound.
Pat Sheridan would homer in the fourth and then Toronto countered with a run in the fifth. With the score 2-1, the Royals mounded another threat in the sixth starting with a one-out walk to George Brett. After that Hal McRae was hit by a pitch, Pat Sheridan grounded into a force out and Steve Balboni worked Dave Stieb for another walk. Now the bases were loaded with two-out and Jim Sundberg stepped to the plate.
Sunny, who had driven in the Royals first run of the game, launched a drive down the RF line that seemed to carry and carry and carry…before finally bouncing off the top of the fence for a triple that cleared the bases. Frank White followed with an RBI single scoring Sundberg and the Royals were up 6-1. After that, with Leibrandt in a groove and Quiz in the pen, the Royals could almost count down the outs. When Frank White fielded Lloyd Moseby’s high hopper in the ninth inning the Kansas City comeback was complete and the Royals were American League Champions.
The extended forecast after that night was very Missouri-like for the next week or so…
Just A Bit More: Jim Sundberg is primarily known as a Texas Ranger where he spent the majority of his major league career and he still works for that club today.
Did you know Jim is from *Galesburg, IL and played baseball at the University of Iowa? (That’s Sunny in his Hawkeye days pictured above)
Looking back his brief stay in Kansas City from 1985-1986 was a master stroke by Royals GM John Schuerholz . Sunny came on-board as the veteran that would help mold the Royals cast of inexperienced pitchers and his influence remained even after he was traded to the Cubs in March of 1987. His steady hand helped the entire pitching staff, but he made a huge impact of the younger pitchers like Saberhagen, Gubicza and Jackson. A solid fundamental ‘professional’ player, one that often goes underappreciated until you watch them play everyday.
And he got a few key hits too, plus a certain slide across home you might remember.
* Corrected from original post. Sunny hales from the Land of Lincoln, previously this note incorrectly placed an IA (Iowa) abbreviation instead of IL (Illinois).
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)