This Date In Royals History – October 18, 1980
Let’s revisit the 1980 World Series one more time for what was undoubtedly the highpoint of that fall classic for the Royals. On a side note, notice this date in 1980 coincided with Game 4 of the World Series and then realize that this year Game 4 will be played in November. I think we’ve stretched to the breaking point – the LA teams had been get it going or this could be the “Nor’easter” World Series. But I digress…
Saturday, October 18, 1980 and the Royals have a chance to even the World Series at two games apiece. Kansas City sent 20-game winner Dennis Leonard to the mound, but he actually had all the runs he would need before throwing his first pitch.
Willie Wilson started with a single, then was pick-off first but advanced to second on an error charged to pitcher Larry Christenson. After Frank White flew out, the Royals began an extra-base hit barrage that chased the Phillies starter before the first inning was finished. George Brett tripled home Wilson to get Kansas City on the board. Willie Aikens followed with a majestic blast to right field and the Royals were up 3-0. Hal McRae lashed a double and scored on an Amos Otis doubled right behind him. Kansas City had four runs and could have had more as they would leave the bases loaded.
Philadelphia countered with a single run in the second, but Aikens got it right back with a titanic shot in the bottom half of the inning. Aikens was an offensive force for the Royals – this was his second two-HR game of the series. The Phillies plated single runs in the seventh and eighth to close the gap, but Quisenberry was there to pick Leonard up and save the series tying win. The victory set-up a pivotal Game 5 which would be another gut-wrencher for Royals fans, but let’s remember instead the euphoria of this great game in Royals History just a short 29 years ago on this date.
Just A Bit More: Willie Aikens was clearly headed for World Series MVP honors should the Royals have been able to pull ahead and win the series. His performance was truly extraordinary; I still believe he holds the distinction of being the only player to have a pair of two home run games in the same World Series (The bat Willie used in Game 4 of the 1980 World Series is on display here at the RHOF – courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown).
The 1980 World Series was also the very first to be played entirely on artificial surface fields. Another oddity for that series, it was the last World Series match-up of two organizations that did not already have at least one previous World Championship in their history. Not only that, but the previous such pairing was the 1920 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)