Brett heroics, no-quit rallies define KC's playoff history
By Paul Hagen
With the Royals in the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1985, let's take a look back at some of the most memorable plays in their postseason history.
October 10, 1976. The Royals evened the ALCS by winning the first postseason game in franchise history against the Yankees. Kansas City's Paul Splittorff pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings, and the Royals benefited from five Yankees errors. Right fielder Tom Poquette and catcher Buck Martinez each drove in a pair of runs in the 7-3 victory.
October 6, 1978. George Brett homered in the first inning off future Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter in Game 3 of the ALCS. And again in the third. And again in the fifth. But the Yankees matched that with a pair of homers by Reggie Jackson and one by Thurman Munson. The Royals took a 5-4 lead against Goose Gossage in the top of the eighth in the Bronx, but the Yanks came back to win in the bottom of the inning on Munson's two-run blast.
October 9, 1980. After being eliminated by the Yankees in 1976, '77 and '78, the Royals took the opener and held a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth in Game 2 of the ALCS at Royals Stadium. But the Yankees, who won 103 regular season games, had Willie Randolph on first with two outs when Bob Watson ripped a line drive deep to left. The Yankees' third-base coach waved Randolph home and Royals left fielder Willie Wilson overthrew cutoff man U.L. Washington. But third baseman Brett, backing up the play, made a strong throw to the plate to retire Randolph. Dan Quisenberry nailed down the save in the ninth.
October 10, 1980. Trailing by a run with two outs in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, Wilson doubled against starter Tommy John and Washington singled against Gossage. That set the stage for Brett to hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Kansas City baseball history, a three-run shot that put the Royals up for good. After Quisenberry pitched out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the eighth, the Royals completed the sweep and earned their first trip to the World Series.
October 17, 1980. Game 3 of the World Series at Royals Stadium was tied at 3 in the bottom of the 10th. Brett, who had homered earlier in the game, was walked intentionally with two outs and Wilson on second. Willie Aikens singled to left-center against Phillies reliever Tug McGraw to score Wilson and give the Royals their first World Series win in franchise history.
October 18, 1980. Aikens homered in the first and second innings of the fourth game of the World Series to become the first player in history to have two two-homer games in the same Fall Classic. He also hit two in the opener at Veterans Stadium. The Royals evened the series at two games apiece, but the game is best remembered for Phillies reliever Dickie Noles knocking Brett off the plate with a high, inside fastball. Aikens later said he expected to be knocked down because of his homers. At any rate, the Phillies won the next two games and the world championship.
October 11, 1985. After losing the first two ALCS games to the Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium, the Royals returned home with their backs against the wall. And Brett had one of his best postseason performances ever, going 4-for-4 with a double and two homers, driving in three, scoring four runs, throwing out Damaso Garcia at the plate and ending the game by making a sliding catch of a pop foul by Lloyd Moseby. The Royals won, 6-5. Later Brett would say it was a game he refused to lose.
October 16, 1985. The Royals broke open a tight game with four runs in the sixth and went on to beat the Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium, 6-2, earning another trip to the World Series. The key hit was a two-out, bases-loaded triple off the top of the right-field fence by catcher Jim Sundberg after Toronto intentionally walked Steve Balboni.
October 27, 1985. The Royals won the only World Series in franchise history, becoming the first team ever to twice rally after being down three-games-to-one. Brett Saberhagen pitched a five-hit shutout to beat a Cardinals team still reeling from a Game 6 loss that included a controversial call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger. An unsung hero was Darryl Motley, who opened the Kansas City scoring with a two-run homer off John Tudor in the second inning and then singled home the first run in a six-run outburst that put the game away in the fifth.