This Date In Royals History – October 17, 1980
We won’t always cover each and every playoff game in this review, but watching the unfolding series’ on TV always leads me to think about big moments in Royals postseason history. Another of those monumental moments happened on this date twenty-nine years ago.
It was Friday, October 17, 1980 and Kansas City was finally hosting a World Series Game here at Royals Stadium. Though the Royals were down two games to none after a couple of tough losses in Philadelphia, the homecoming would hopefully give the Royals new live and a way back into the series. George Brett gave Kansas City fans every indication that the Royals could do just that with a HR in the bottom of the first.
The game was a battle of one run innings were Kansas City would take the lead and the Phillies would immediately answer – a pattern that would repeat itself three times. After Brett’s first inning HR, the Phillies scored a run in the top of the second to tie. Willie Aikens tripled and scored in the fourth, then Mike Schmidt homered in the top of the fifth to tie. Amos Otis homered in the seventh, then Pete Rose had an RBI single in the top of the eighth to tie the game again.
The game went into extra innings and the Royals dodged a Phillies scoring chance when Mike Schmidt lined into a double play with a runner in scoring position in the top of the tenth. The Royals tenth was a rollercoaster ride that went like this:
Tug McGraw replaces Dick Ruthven on the mound
UL Washington singles to left
Willie Wilson walks
UL Wahsington caught stealing third
Frank White strikes out
Two on with nobody out turns quickly into two out and a runner at first. Oh no, you say – another wasted opportunity, but wait…
Willie Wilson steals second
George Brett is walked intentionally
All of which brought up Willie Aikens with two outs and a chance for the win. As he would be for the entire series, Aikens came through for the Royals with a single which easily scored Wilson. The Royals had a 4-3 win and Kansas City had it’s very first World Series victory.
Just A Bit More: Whitey Herzog said long ago that if he had had Dan Quisenberry in the bullpen from 1976-1978 the Royals would have played in at least two World Series before 1980. Quisenberry was on the mound when the Royals finally got past the Yankees in the 1980 ALCS which gives great credence to Herzog’s claim.
And Quiz was key to this first World Series win as well. He had pitched in both games in Philadelphia including a tough outing where he took the loss in Game 2, but one of his trademarks was resiliency and thankfully so. He came in with two outs and two on in the eighth and retired Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt. He fought through having runners on base in both the ninth and tenth, but turned away Philadelphia both times with the game still tied. It might not have been pretty, but he got the win and the Royals had a chance to make it a series again.
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)