It took an act of God to slow down the Kansas City Royals Monday, with their third game of the American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles rained out.
No doubt the Royals, who have been unbeatable in October, were itching to play. Wouldn’t you be if you were on a hot streak? It will be interesting to see if delays affect pitching rotations, or if it makes any difference at all.
Maybe during the rainout the Royals sat around the clubhouse watching highlight films from the franchise’s 1985 World Series triumph. If a local TV station was smart it would have put on those games and enjoyed huge Nielsen ratings since everyone in K.C. is in baseball mode.
The season of 1985 has been talked about a lot this post-season because that was the last time the woebegone Royals of recent vintage made the playoffs. It was truly a memorable playoff baseball season in Kansas City, though now the fans are hungry for a bookend Series trophy.
In fact, the Royals won the Series over the St. Louis Cardinals that year and it is very possible that we could see an all-Missouri World Series again this fall. They talk about a Subway Series in New York, but this would be the I-70 Series.
In 1985, the Royals finished 91-71 and won the AL West for the sixth time in 10 years. It was Kansas City’s second appearance in a World Series – they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. The late Dick Howser, who died young of cancer, was the manager.
Bret Saberhagen, with a 20-6 mark, led a pitching staff that saw five players win at least 10 games. Dan Quisenberry was tops in the bullpen with 37 saves and a 2.37 earned run average.
Unlike these Royals, who managed only a puny 95 home runs during the regular season while totaling more than 150 infield hits, the 1985 Royals could hit with anyone.
Hall of Fame roster
The real team leader was future Hall of Famer George Brett, who is still affiliated with the club and whose face has often appeared on the TV screen during this Kansas City post-season run. Despite the passage of nearly 30 years Brett still looks young. He played young at the time – at 32 -- hitting .335 with 30 home runs and 112 runs batted in and a .436 on-base percentage. In a 21-year career, Brett never hit more homers in a season and only once drove in more runs. He had a lot to be happy about in 1985.
When it came to power hitting during that run Brett was not alone, either. Steve Balboni crushed 36 and second baseman Frank White showed surprising pop with 22 homers. Speedy center fielder Willie Wilson smacked an astonishing 21 triples. Wilson also had 43 stolen bases. Designated hitter Hal McRae knocked in 70 runs.
At that time there were no Wild Card playoffs or Division Series. The Royals advanced directly to meet the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS for the right to play in the World Series. It was a seven-game series and it went all seven with Charlie Leibrandt winning the clincher.
Then it took seven more games to decide the World Series, K.C. winning the last one 11-0. It was a very sweet year in Kansas City, but it was long enough ago that many fans of the 2014 team weren’t yet born. They want to see more memories made this fall and Kansas City’s 2-0 start against Baltimore gives them hope.