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Opening Day 1970

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Let’s celebrate 51 years!

2018 was the 50th anniversary of the Kansas City Royals. 51st anniversaries really don’t mean anything to anyone, so I looked in an old Royals press guide for some information about the 1970 season. Nothing. Nada. Not even a single line was written about the 1970 season. That tells you just about everything you need to know about the 1970 Royals. With the Royals beating the White Sox in the 2019 opener, it brought Kansas City’s all-time opening day record to 26-25. Let’s look back at opening day, fifty years ago, 1970. The 1969 expansion Royals had opened their inaugural season in style, defeating the Minnesota Twins in extra innings. 1970 brought a few changes. Charlie Metro took over as manager from Joe Gordon. Amos Otis was making his Royals debut. The opening day opponent was the hated Oakland A’s. The game was played Tuesday April 7th, 1970 at Municipal Stadium. 18,127 made it to the old ballpark on a nice 78-degree day.

Games with the Athletics were always kind of awkward. As recently as 1967, these guys were our team. Six of the Athletics nine starters made their debut’s as members of the Kansas City Athletics. The Athletics and Royals opened with lineups of:

Athletics vs. Royals

Athletics Royals
Athletics Royals
SS Bert Campanaris RF Pat Kelly
CF Rick Mondy 1B Mike Fiore
LF Felipe Alou CF Amos Otis
RF Reggie Jackson 3B Bob Oliver
3B Sal Bando LF Lou Piniella
1B Don Mincher 2B Luis Alcaraz
2B Dick Green SS Jackie Hernandez
C Frank Fernandez C Ellie Rodriguez
P Blue Moon Odom P Wally Bunker

The umpires were Larry Napp behind the plate, John Rice at first, Marty Springstead at second and Larry Barnett at third.

Wally Bunker, who had an excellent 1969 season with Kansas City, found trouble immediately. Campanaris led off the game with a triple to left. Rick Monday followed with a double to left to give the A’s a quick 1-0 lead.

The Royals struck back in the bottom of the first. Kelly led off with a single to center and advanced to second on an error by Monday. Fiore moved him to third with a ground ball to second, before Otis collected his first RBI as a Royal with a hard shot to short.

The score remained knotted at one until the top of the third. Monday hit a one-out triple to right and scored on an Alou single to left. Bunker struck out Reggie for the second out, but he couldn’t fool Sal Bando, who smashed a two-run home run to give Oakland a 4-1 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Bunker led off with a walk. Kelly and Otis then rapped successive singles, with Otis picking up two more RBI.

In the Oakland 4th, Monday drew a one-out walk before Bunker balked him to second, which was pivotal as Reggie delivered a 2-out single to plate Monday and give the A’s a 5-3 lead.

Don Mincher tagged Bunker with a lead-off home run in the top of the fifth, making it 6-3 Oakland.

Kansas City tried to mount a rally in their half of the 6th. Oliver led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch by Odom. Lou Piniella walked which prompted A’s Manager, John McNamara, to bring in Rollie Fingers to put out the fire. Piniella immediately got caught trying to steal second before Alcaraz flied out to left and Hernandez struck out, ending the threat. And that’s how it ended, 6-4 Oakland.

Fingers threw four innings of one hit relief to pick up the save.

For Kansas City, Bunker threw five innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs. Jim Rooker worked two perfect innings before Moe Drabowsky finished up with two innings of 1-hit ball.

The game took 2:52 to complete. The 1970 Royals were still a work in progress. They had some young talent with Otis, Piniella, Oliver, Kelly and Paul Schaal. On the mound, Dick Drago, Roger Nelson, Mike Hedlund, Tom Burgmeier and Al Fitzmorris had promising arms. General Manager Cedric Tallis needed a couple of more seasons to work his magic before the Royals became contenders.