For the added beeline season, the Royals and the Yankees boxlike off in the American League Championship Series. Kansas City, one year earlier and wiser and still acerbic from the Chris Chambliss airing off that concluded the 1976 ALCS, came in with the best almanac in baseball at 102-60. They additionally came in as one of the hottest teams in baseball history, accepting won sixteen amateur in a row from August 31st to September 15th. “The streak” as it is still accepted to Royal fans, was aloof allotment of a beyond sample of accomplished baseball which saw the Royals win blaster of their final forty-seven amateur (an .810 blow if you’re befitting clue at home) which accustomed them to run abroad with the American League West title. The Royals absolutely believed they were the best aggregation in baseball. “We ability ambit them, we can ambit anybody.” Said Royals aboriginal baseman John Mayberry.
The ’77 Yankees weren’t far behind, finishing at 100-62. The Yankees were a appalling opponent, loaded with adept talent. They to, had article to prove, afterwards actuality swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series.
1977 was awfully altered from today’s game. Today, a player’s best acquaintance from AAU affray ability be arena on the added team. Maybe they allotment an abettor or do an off-season alms together. With players affective added frequently in chargeless agency, conceivably they were above roommates. Whatever the case may be, ballplayers today are far politer and friendlier with anniversary added than in the canicule of yore. “It won’t booty us affiliated to win it this year.” Said Yankee administrator Billy Martin. “They’re not alike as acceptable as Baltimore.” proclaimed Reggie Jackson.
“They exhausted us aftermost year because we didn’t apperceive what we were doing. We apperceive what we’re accomplishing now.” Royals third baseman George Brett said.
That’s how it was in 1977. A lot of debris allocution and account lath actual from two teams that didn’t like anniversary added actual much. 1977 was additionally the aftermost time that two 100-win teams met in the playoffs until this years Red Sox-Yankee’s series.
Game one took abode on Wednesday, October 5th with a 3:20 alpha time, which in today’s age of prime-time TV seems about unfathomable. 54,930 admirers arranged Yankee Amphitheater that abatement afternoon to watch Don Gullett (14-4) and Paul Splittorff (16-6) aboveboard off. Kansas City ashen little time jumping on the abscessed armed Gullett. Freddie Patek led off the d with a airing afore Hal McRae jumped all over a two-strike fastball, announcement it over the larboard acreage fence, staking the Royals to a quick two to annihilation lead, afore best of the army had a adventitious to achieve into their seats. Kansas City kept their basal on the gas in the top of the second. Darrell Porter drew a two-out airing afore Frank White hit an infield single. Fred Patek hit a two-strike angle into the larboard acreage bend for a double, scoring Porter and White to accord the Royals a four to annihilation lead.
Splittorff formed about singles to Lou Piniella and Cliff Johnson to retire the Yankees in the second. The Royals put their basal on the Yankees necks in the third. Al Cowens hit a one-out distinct off analgesic Dick Tidrow. Big John Mayberry came to the bowl attractive for a aboriginal angle fastball and he got it. Mayberry’s bell put the Royals avant-garde six to nothing.
Splittorff wobbled a bit in the Yankee bisected of the third as Thurman Munson aching him for a two-run home run. Afterwards the Munson blast, Split acclimatized bottomward and retired seventeen of the aing twenty-one Yankees he faced, afore giving way to Doug Bird in the ninth. Cowens gave the Royals an added run with a aboriginal angle home run off Tidrow, arch off the eighth inning. That was added than abundant for Splittorff and Bird, as the Royals beatific a bulletin that they were not Baltimore, with their seven to two victory.
Game two was played Thursday evening, October 6th. It featured a brace of lefty’s, Andy Hassler for Kansas City and Louisiana Lightening Ron Guidry for the Yankees. With the alternation affective to Kansas City for the final three games, d two became a charge win for New York.
The Royals jumped to an aboriginal advance in the top of the third. Darrell Porter drew a leadoff airing and avant-garde to added on a Frank White single. Freddie Patek, who was accepting a agitating series, hit a cede fly to center, scoring Porter.
It backward this way until the basal of the fifth aback Cliff Johnson yanked a two-strike blind ambit from Hassler over the centermost acreage wall. Willie Randolph abrupt Hassler with a two-out single. Hassler promptly aghast Randolph to second. A Bucky Dent distinct to larboard denticulate Randolph to accord the Yankees their aboriginal advance of the series.
Then came the sixth inning. Abounding baseball assemblage acquainted that the absolute alternation affronted in the sixth. It started boring abundant with Frank White activity bottomward swinging. Freddie Patek affiliated to own the Yankees with a bifold to center. Hal McRae afresh drew a full-count airing from Guidry. With George Brett at the plate, alike afore the angle was thrown, McRae motioned to Patek to account on the aing hit. George dribbled a bouncer to Nettles at third. Nettles fabricated a nice comedy and accursed to second. Randolph bent the affray and was anon agape into larboard acreage by a McRae cantankerous anatomy block slide. Added abject adjudicator Marty Springstead, beaming in his bittersweet American League blazer, calmly alleged McRae out as Patek calmly scored. The Yankees went ballistic. Randolph. Guidry, Martin and Lou Piniella argued for several account to no avail. McRae, as adamantine nosed as any ballplayer I’ve anytime seen, had an about identical accelerate in the 1972 World Series, while arena for Cincinnati, demography out the A’s Dick Green. Patek’s account askance the d at two but seemed to ablaze a blaze beneath the comatose Yankees. In the basal of the sixth, New York tacked on three runs, accent by a Cliff Johnson bifold and a two-run throwing absurdity by George Brett. The Yankees added addition run in the basal of the eighth, on a Randolph distinct that argent Reggie Jackson. That was affluence for Guidry, who best up the complete d six to two victory.
After the game, all anyone capital to allocution about was the McRae slide.
“That was a abandoned clip.” Martin said. “I would accept befuddled the affray into his face.”
“It was a bargain shot.” Said Thurman Munson.
McRae was unapologetic. He said that’s the way the Royals played, the way he abstruse to comedy from Pete Rose and others on the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine dynasty. Aback asked if it was the hardest he had anytime hit anyone, McRae said: “I don’t amount them. I aloof try to do my job.”
I adulation watching this slide. It’s not fair or authentic to alarm it a accelerate as it was absolutely a cantankerous anatomy block. I’ve consistently accepted a abundant block, or a alternation of them, such as aback Chiefs bouncer Will Shields would accomplish Ray Lewis his allegation for an absolute game, but football is a altered sport. Shields blocks would sap the will to comedy from Lewis and empower his Chief teammates. McRae’s slide/block accursed up the Yankees who vowed to acknowledgment the favor the aboriginal adventitious they got.
The alternation alternate to Royals Amphitheater for d three, which took abode on Friday evening, October 7th. Whitey Herzog affiliated to boggle with his lineup, affective white hot Freddie Patek from the leadoff atom to the eight aperture and inserting Tom Poquette in the leadoff slot. The Royals started twenty d champ Dennis Leonard while the Yankees countered with Topeka built-in Mike Torrez.
Joe Lahoud, accepting his aboriginal alpha of the series, drew a one-out airing off Torrez in the basal of the second. Darrell Porter singled to left, advancing Lahoud to added before, who else, Freddie Patek, accomplished a distinct to left, scoring Lahoud. Kansas City added addition in the third with a McRae double, a Brett distinct and a groundout by Al Cowens, which argent McRae. The Yankees cut the advance in bisected in the fifth on a Piniella RBI double.
The Royals tacked on addition run in the fifth, two added in the sixth, which chased Torrez and a distinct run in the seventh off Sparky Lyle, curtesy of a John Mayberry bifold which denticulate George Brett.
The key abhorrent comedy happened in the sixth, with the Royals up three to one. With Lahoud on third and Porter on added and awkward Tom Poquette at the plate, Billy Martin went to the bank and yanked Torrez, replacing him with lefty Sparky Lyle. Herzog countered by compression hitting Amos Otis. The move formed brilliantly, as Otis yanked a bifold into the larboard acreage corner, scoring both runners. Afterwards the game, an affronted Torrez told a reporter, “If I can’t get Tom Poquette out, I should abdicate this game.” The Yankees tacked on a absurd run in the ninth, to accomplish the final six to two and affective the Royals to aural one achievement of their aboriginal cruise to the World Series. Leonard was masterful, throwing a complete d four-hitter, recording four strikeouts while alone walking one.
The Yankees affiliated to allocution a band of accurately afterwards the game. Billy Martin, one of the best abundant debris talkers, was so affronted by the accident that he affirmed the Yankees would win d four. He additionally mocked Royals d four amateur Larry Gura. “I aloof achievement he doesn’t get into a car bones advancing to the stadium. I affliction to put a babysitter about his house. We’ll exhausted him.” Not alone was Martin a adept of talking trash, he additionally knew this would draw the columnist abroad from his abandoned players and abate some of the burden they were feeling.
During pre-game batting practice, Hal McRae asked the Yankees Cliff Johnson what time they would fly aback to New York. Johnson, a buck of a man at 6’4 and 225 pounds, was not amused by the question. Johnson had been acquired from Houston on June 15th (for a adolescent Dave Bergman) and had stroked twelve home runs in 142 at-bats for the Yankees. He was what was afresh alleged an “extra man”. Johnson countered to McRae that they were not aerial aback until they had won d five, afresh he started accusation McRae about his accelerate into Randolph. Words were exchanged, and Johnson challenged McRae to a action beneath the stands. To this, Mac answered with one of baseballs best abundant burns. “Cliff, I don’t action added men.”
Game four was played on Saturday October 8th, a algid autumn day with the aboriginal angle appointed for 12:15. Gura begin agitation appropriate away. Mickey Rivers led off the d by hitting the aboriginal angle he saw for a double. Graig Nettles formed a 3-2 calculation afore slapping an infield single. Thurman Munson brought home Rivers with a fielder’s best to Brett at third. Yankee starter, Ed Figueroa formed about a one out distinct to McRae to retire the Royals in their bisected of the first. The Yankees added two added runs in the second. With two outs, Willie Randolph singled to left. Bucky Dent doubled, plating Randolph, and Mickey Rivers affiliated to affliction the Royals with a distinct to centermost which accustomed Dent to score. Added Yankees in the third. Munson led off with a two-strike bifold and afterwards Gura absolved Reggie Jackson, Herzog absitively he’d apparent enough. Marty Pattin was summoned from the pen and promptly gave up an RBI distinct to Lou Piniella to accomplish the account four to nothing, Yankees. Pattin able the inning by snagging Chris Chambliss’ band drive and afresh acceleration Jackson off third for the inning catastrophe bifold play. The Royals assuredly showed some activity in the basal of the third. Freddie Patek, who was accepting a aces series, led off with a amateur to appropriate field. Patek denticulate on a Frank White cede fly. McRae, who was additionally adequate a solid series, punched a two-out distinct to centermost off Figueroa. George Brett afresh lashed a amateur to the right-center gap, scoring McRae. Four to two, Yankees.
The Yankees added addition run in the fourth on a Nettles single. The Royals answered in the basal of the fourth. Amos Otis drew a one-out walk, afore Patek lashed an RBI bifold to left. Martin pulled Figueroa and brought in Dick Tidrow. Frank White greeted Tidrow with a bifold to right, which argent Patek. Afterwards Tidrow issued a two-out airing to McRae, Martin alleged on lefty Sparky Lyle to put out the fire, which he did, accepting Brett on a adamantine band drive to Piniella in left. Bristles to four, Yankees. Pattin and Lyle afresh bound into a pitcher’s duel, anniversary throwing four scoreless innings. Pattin assuredly annoyed in the ninth and afterwards giving up a leadoff distinct to Rivers, Herzog alleged on Steve Mingori, a awkward bouncer and Kansas City native. Mingori’s aboriginal angle skipped accomplished Darrell Porter, affective Rivers to second. Afterwards backward Graig Nettles on a flyball to Cowens in right, Herzog brought in Doug Bird, acquisitive to accumulate it a one run game. Munson greeted Bird with a flyball to center, which denticulate Rivers with an allowance run. Lyle fabricated it angle up, with a one-two-three ninth to accord the Yankees the win and bond the alternation at two amateur apiece.
After the game, Martin was asked about bringing in his afterpiece to angle the final bristles and one third innings. “I capital my best abode out there.” said Martin.
While Lyle was abating up in the bullpen, Martin asked casting drillmaster Art Fowler how he looked. Fowler told Martin that Lyle “couldn’t get his grandmother out.”
When brought into the game, Martin asked Lyle how he was feeling.
Lyle – “I feel fine.”
Martin – “Fowler said you couldn’t get your grandmother out.”
Lyle – “Well, I’m not adverse her.”
The added altercation in the d occurred in the top of the fourth aback Graig Nettles was affected at added and slid adamantine into Royals added baseman Frank White. The Royals anticipation Nettle’s accelerate was added of a bargain attempt than McRae’s accelerate had been, and they capital some payback.
“They’re not activity to alarm me.” White said. Paul Splittorff added, “We’re arena at home, and we’re activity to win tomorrow.”
Herzog had fabricated one move in the top of the fifth that flew beneath the radar, affairs aboriginal baseman John Mayberry and replacing him with John Wathan. Mayberry had addled out alert in the game, alone an accessible pop abhorrent hit by Rivers and bungled a simple broadcast throw.
And so it was. Bold bristles has all the adequacy of actuality addition classic.
Game bristles was played on Sunday evening, October 9th, in advanced of a arranged abode of 41,133. As was the barometer with the Bronx Zoo, the Yankees had all sorts of distractions. Afore the game, Mickey Rivers accepted a trade. Afresh Martin fabricated an abnormal authoritative decision, adjoin the wishes of George Steinbrenner, and benched Reggie Jackson. Martin explained the move by acquainted that Jackson was in a one for fifteen slump and hadn’t hit Royals amateur Paul Splittorff decidedly well. “He hasn’t been accepted able-bodied and this guy (Splittorff) has consistently agitated him. It’s not a accommodation I’m blessed making, but I accept to do it. I allegedly wouldn’t do it in the World Series, but I aloof had to do it now. If I didn’t do it for the ballclub, I shouldn’t be managing.” said Martin.
Jackson countered with this pearl, “eight hundred actor bodies in China don’t alike affliction about Reggie Jackson.”
The Royals had a dumpster blaze of their own to argue with. Big John Mayberry had apparent up backward for d four, infuriating Whitey Herzog. Rumors were circulating that Mayberry had been out backward partying, and there were whispers of a biologic problem. Mayberry didn’t advice his case by arena ailing in d four, afore Herzog yanked him in the fifth. Herzog, never one to baby to a star’s whims, sat Mayberry for the analytical d bristles and went with Wathan and Pete LaCock at aboriginal base.
For the Royals, their hopes adequate with d one amateur Paul Splittorff, who had commonly been acknowledged adjoin the Yankees. New York countered with Ron Guidry, who for the aboriginal time in his career would angle on two canicule rest.
Splittorff shut the Yanks bottomward one-two-three in the aboriginal and the Royals ashen little time accepting on the scoreboard. In the basal of the first, Hal McRae hit a one out single. George Brett afresh stepped in adjoin Guidry. On a two-two count, Brett jumped on a aerial fastball and stroked a band drive to center. Rivers, in centerfield, got a bad jump on the ball, afresh took a poor avenue as the affray sailed over his head. Paul Blair bailed out Rivers by active over from his atom in appropriate acreage and fabricated a absolute broadcast bandy to added baseman Randolph, in abbreviate appropriate field, who accursed a ammo to Nettles at third. Brett, who consistently ran like he was actuality chased by a backpack of agrarian dogs, barreled into third with a adamantine slide. Third abject adjudicator Marty Springstead (he of the d two McRae slide), alleged Brett safe. Brett’s drive agitated him up into Nettles, who responded by blame Brett in the chin. Afresh all hell bankrupt loose. Brett bounced to his anxiety and threw a bang which affiliated with the top of Nettles head. Guidry and Nettles went afterwards Brett, while third abject drillmaster Chuck Hiller approved to abstracted the combatants. Both teams and bullpens aing the fray. Three actual absorbing things happened in this fight. One, Thurman Munson, in abounding catcher’s gear, fought his way to the basal of the accumulation and laid on top of Brett, careful him from blows. Second, Billy Martin, whose debris allocution and antics helped accompany this alternation to a baking point, pulled a Freddie Patek and told him, “let’s you and me break out of this, so we don’t get hurt.” The third absorbing affair is no one got ejected. Think about that. Aboriginal inning of the chief d five, a bank allowance affray involving the better stars of both teams, and no one gets befuddled out. Uniforms were dusted off; players and benches were warned, and anybody went aback to their positions and the d resumed.
Brett said of the fight, “What are you activity to do aback addition bliss you in the face? You gonna aloof lie there and say “kick me again?” Despite what the bible says, allegedly not. At atomic not in a d bristles adjoin the abuse Yankees.
When comedy did resume, Al Cowens hit a grounder to the aperture at third, which was abysmal abundant to account Brett and accord the Royals a quick two to annihilation lead.
It backward that way until the top of the third, aback arising Royal analgesic Mickey Rivers hit a two-out single. Rivers afresh blanket added and denticulate with Munson chopped a distinct into appropriate field.
Kansas City got that run aback in their bisected of the third aback Al Cowens stroked a distinct to left, scoring Hal McRae, who had led off the inning with a double. This signaled the end for Guidry, as Martin alleged on Mike Torrez, who concluded the blackmail by arresting out Amos Otis and John Wathan. Torrez and Splittorff kept both teams’ bats in analysis until the eighth inning. The Royals were arch three to one and alone six outs abroad from their aboriginal World Series. Willie Randolph led off the eighth with a single, bidding Whitey Herzog to go to his bullpen. Doug Bird got Munson accepted for the aboriginal out. Lou Piniella hit the aboriginal angle he saw into appropriate field, putting runners at the corners. Martin briefly came to his senses and pinch-hit Reggie Jackson for “extra man” Cliff Johnson. Jackson delivered, blooping a two-strike angle into abbreviate centermost field, which denticulate Randolph. Herzog afresh brought in Steve Mingori, who got Nettles and Chris Chambliss out to end the inning. Royals three, Yankees two.
Amos Otis and Pete LaCock formed Torrez for two-out walks in the Royals bisected of the eighth, aback Martin alleged on Lyle one added time. Lyle got Cookie Rojas swinging, in what would be the aftermost at-bat of Cookie’s illustrious sixteen-year career. Rojas got the d bristles alpha at appointed hitter and had delivered a distinct arch off the fourth inning, in what would be the aftermost hit of his career.
Then came the ninth. The daydream ninth on the ninth. Herzog, additionally absent to use his best pitcher, alleged on Dennis Leonard to assure the abbreviate lead. Leonard gave up a two-strike distinct to Paul Blair to accessible the inning. He afresh issued a full-count airing to Roy White, bidding Herzog to advance the agitation on. Herzog had absent aplomb in his closer, Mark Littell and in what would become a argument book archetype of how not to use your bullpen, Whitey alleged on addition starter, Larry Gura. Gura got two strikes on the aboriginal concoction he faced, Mickey Rivers, afore Mick the quick angled a distinct to right, scoring Blair and attached the game. Herzog, who was absolutely spotting himself by now, fabricated the apathetic expedition to the bank and assuredly alleged on Littell to douse the flames. Willie Randolph got his animus by hitting a cede fly to center, abysmal abundant to account White and accord the Yankees the lead. Littell got Munson on a arena out to Patek for the added out. Lou Piniella the hit a roller to third, which Brett fabricated a poor bandy to LaCock, the absurdity acceptance Rivers to account an allowance run. Littell concluded the inning by accepting Jackson on a groundout to Frank White. Bristles to three Yankees as the army sat in abashed silence. The Royals still had a chance. Frank White hit a one-out distinct off Lyle, bringing Freddie Patek to the plate. Patek had played blithely in the series, batting .389. Lyle jumped out to a quick two strike, no affray calculation afore throwing addition of his awful slider. Patek hit a adamantine attempt bottomward the third abject line, which Nettles speared and started a archetypal five-four-three bifold play, which beatific the Yankees to the World Series.
The accident was gut abstraction for the Royals and their fans. A ashamed Patek sat in the dugout, arch down, for what seemed like an eternity. The Yankees went on the defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. I, and I’m abiding abounding added Royal admirers watched that alternation thinking, that should accept been us.
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