Fall. The leaves are turning and there’s a bit of nip in the air. People are heavily into tailgating and football. But for baseball fans, fall is the second-best time of the year. The Fall Classic. I will always contend that spring is the best time of the year for baseball fans. Everything is being reborn, including your favorite team, and there’s nothing like the optimism of spring training and opening day.
The World Series is going strong as I write this. The Royals have had their share of success in the World Series. Some teams, and their fans, have been left out of the fun. There are six teams that have never felt the joy of a World Series-winning parade: Texas, San Diego, Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, and Tampa. Heck, Seattle had never even been to a World Series, having squandered two windows of glorious opportunity: the A-Rod, Griffey, Johnson, Buhner teams from 1995 to 1997 and the Ichiro, Olerud, Martinez, Boone, Moyer juggernaut of 2001.
The Yankees have 40 World Series appearances, so their favorite memories would fil a small book. The other Missouri team has the second most World Series appearances with 19, but someone else can write that story.
The Royals have been the most successful of the four 1969 expansion teams. Despite their years of wandering the baseball wilderness in the 1990s and 2000s, they have won seven division titles and four American League pennants to go with their four World Series appearances. Of course, we’ve had two glorious parades as well. The Padres have won five division titles and two pennants, the Pilots/Brewers have won five division titles and one pennant, while the Expos/Nationals have won four division titles and one championship, all after relocating to Washington.
What is your favorite Royals World Series memory? Here are a few highlights to choose from:
Game Three of the 1980 World Series
This was the first Series game played in Kansas City, a 4 to 3 Royals victory over the Phillies. Willie Mays Aikens gave the Royals the win with a two out, tenth inning walk-off single off Tug McGraw. The 1980 Series was a bit of a classic. The first five games were decided by a total of seven runs.
Game Four of the 1980 World Series
The Royals pound the Phils into submission, 5-3, behind two home runs from Aikens, who was having a phenomenal series. The win evened the series at two games apiece and gave Royal fans some hope that they could take the series. The Royals had Game Two in control before Philadelphia nicked Dan Quisenberry for four runs in the eighth inning to steal a win. Many Royals fans, I included, thought that we should have been up 3-games-to-1 at this point.
Game Six of the 1985 World Series
This game has been analyzed into infinity and you know the story. The Cardinals, three outs away from winning the Series, have a breakdown. Jorge Orta, with a little help from first base umpire Don Denkinger, beats out an infield single. Jack Clark misplays a foul ball. Steve Balboni rips a single. Todd Worrell throws a pitch past Darrell Porter. Dane Iorg loops a soft hit into right field, scoring Onix Concepcion and Jim Sundberg, who somehow beat the throw from the strong arm of Andy Van Slyke. Royals 2, Cardinals 1.
Game Seven of the 1985 World Series
If you’re a Cardinals fan, this just seems like piling on. Bret Saberhagen had some of his best stuff working. Daryl Motley slams a two-run home run in the second to get the Royals on the board. Then came the unfortunate fifth inning, where the Cardinals came completely unglued. It took them five pitchers to get through the inning as the Royals plated six runs. Joaquin Andujar and Whitey Herzog were ejected. Cardinal fans continue to blame Don Denkinger for the Series loss while conveniently overlooking the fact that their team hit .185 for the series and blew a 3-games-to-1 lead.
Game Seven of the 2014 World Series
Yeah, I know the Royals lost this game and the series. This was a strange series. Even though it went seven games, only two games were close. The other five were blowouts. This game, and the series, came down to the last batter. With two outs, Alex Gordon hit a drive to left center, that the Giants misplayed. By the time the San Fran outfielders corralled the ball, Gordon had lumbered to third. There’s still some debate on whether Gordon should have been sent. I’ve always felt the answer was no. By the time Gordon rolled into third, he was running like he had a refrigerator on his back. Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford already had the ball, in short left field. Crawford has a strong and accurate arm and I’m certain Crawford would have thrown Gordon out by at least ten feet. It was the right call, holding him. It didn’t matter, as Madison Bumgarner got Sal Perez to swing at a series of crap pitches, all off the plate, while inducing Salvy into a Series-ending popup. It was exciting though.
Game One of the 2015 World Series
The Royals were two outs away from losing Game One, at home, when Alex Gordon turned on a Jeurys Familia fastball and deposited it on the berm below the scoreboard. Chris Young gave the Royals three solid innings of relief work and Eric Hosmer hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 14th to give Kansas City a classic victory.
Game Five of the 2015 World Series
I’ve been fortunate to see every inning of every World Series game the Royals have played, and this game remains my favorite. Kansas City entered the ninth inning, down 2-0. Matt Harvey famously talked his manager into letting him close out the victory. He walked Lorenzo Cain, who then stole second. Eric Hosmer banged a double to left center, scoring Cain. Jeurys Familia came on for Harvey and got Mike Moustakas on a ground ball to first, moving Hosmer to third.
Sal Perez hit a chopper to third baseman David Wright. Wright gave Hosmer a quick how-do glance then side-armed a throw to first. Hosmer audaciously broke for home, forcing a panicked throw from first baseman Lucas Duda, which sailed wide right. Hosmer’s mad dash tied the score at two, and you knew right then that the game, and the series, was over. The Met’s knew it too. The Royals sent nine men to the plate in the twelfth inning, plating five runs. Wade Davis came on and got three strikeouts to end the game and give the Royals the title.
What is your favorite Royals World Series moment?
This poll is closed
Game 3, 1980 – Aikens walk off
Game 4, 1980 – Aikens two home runs
Game 6, 1985 – With a little help from our friends
Game 7, 1985 – Cardinals melt down
Game 7, 2014 – 90 feet away
Game 1, 2015 – Gordo ties it up
Game 5, 2015 – Hosmer’s mad dash