Editor’s note: With the St. Louis Cardinals coming to Kansas City this weekend, it seems like a good time to reminisce about the last time they were in town to play a Royals team with legitimate championship aspirations.
Here’s The Kansas City Times story from Monday, Oct. 28, 1985, the day after the Royals beat the Cardinals 11-0 in game seven of the World Series.
They did it!
By George, they did it!
The Royals are the world champions — and it wasn’t even close. The Royals tore into the St. Louis Cardinals for an 11-0 victory Sunday night in the seventh game of the World Series, capping a historic comeback in Royals Stadium.
In fact, the Cardinals came completely unraveled. With the Royals building their lead to 11-0 with a six-run fifth inning, both St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog and pitcher Joaquin Andujar were ejected from the game for arguing with home-plate umpire Don Denkinger. Andujar had to be forcibly removed by his teammates.
By then the Cardinals already knew they had blown their once formidable 3-1 World Series lead. By then the Cardinals knew they would go down in history as the only team to ever lose a World Series after winning the first two games on the road. By then it was clear which clubhouse President Reagan would be calling Sunday night. By then it was over.
There’s no doubt about it, they DID IT!
OK, now think back — and be honest. When did you first give up hope — or at least have a little lapse in confidence — for this bunch of Royals?
Was it in July when the Royals fell 7 1/2 games behind in the American League West race?
How about in September when the Royals let a three-game lead slip away, fueled when Seattle swept a four-game series?
Or was it when California dropped the Royals a game behind by winning the second game of a four-game series in Kansas City?
How about when Toronto built a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series or when the Royals headed to Toronto for the last two games of the playoffs trailing three games to two?
Did you think it was over when the Cardinals shockingly scored four runs in the ninth inning, beating the Royals 4-2 for a lead of two games to none in the World Series?
Maybe when the Cardinals won the fourth game for a 3-1 World Series lead with the fifth game scheduled for Busch Stadium in St. Louis?
Well, the Royals didn’t give up.
And in a season in which the Royals had made even the most improbable comebacks seem like a piece of cake, the final comeback from 3-1 down in the World Series took the cake.
It started in the third game, the first game played in Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals had won two of every three games played this year.
But with Bret Saberhagen, who turned out to be the Most Valuable Player in the World Series, pitching a six-hitter and Frank White driving in three runs with a home run and a double, the Royals dug themselves out of a hole with a 6-1 triumph.
But the Cardinals won the fourth game, and it was time, once again, to gather the next of kin and prepare the eulogies.
Instead, the Royals sat up, winked at the crowd of mourners and hopped right out of the casket.
Royals starting pitcher Danny Jackson shut down the Cardinals on five hits, and the Royals scratched and clawed their way to six runs for another 6-1 victory. The Series was coming back to Kansas City for the finish.
And, what a finish.
In the sixth game, pitchers Charlie Leibrandt of the Royals and Danny Cox of the Cardinals matched scoreless innings until the eighth when a broken-bat single by pinch-hitter Brian Harper pushed the Cardinals in front 1-0. Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Royals were staring at the end of the season as never before.
But, incredibly, the Cardinals blinked.
After Jorge Orta beat out an infield hit on a call the Cardinals disputed, the Royals profited by two key-Cardinals mistakes. First, Jack Clark misplayed a foul pop, giving Steve Balboni a second chance. He turned the chance into a single. Then, after Jim Sundberg bunted poorly on a sacrifice attempt, St. Louis catcher Darrell Porter missed an outside slider from Todd Worrell, allowing the runners to advance to second and third, Hal McRae was intentionally walked, and the entire game was loaded onto the shoulders of pinch hitter Dane Iorg.
Line drive, right field, base hit. The tying run is in, here comes Sundberg, here comes the throw, he’s safe. The Royals win! The Royals win!
It was 2-1, and that turned out to be the World Series. The Cardinals showed up for the seventh game, but they might as well have headed east on I-70 Saturday night.
Darryl Motley got the Royals started with a two-run home run in the second inning. Steve Balboni added a two-run single in the three-run third inning, and it was 5-0. The six-run fifth inning put it away, and Saberhagen wrapped up the Cardinals in a five-hitter.
There never has been a more lopsided seventh-game decision in World Series history than Sunday’s 11-0 victory. Somehow, considering the Royals’ season, such a picnic hardly seemed fitting.
But who cares? After all the times the Royals had to come back this season, they deserved a laugher in their last game.
And, they got it.