Chicago Tribune - October 18, 1980
Royals muddle to victory
By Dave Nightingale, Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It was not a real work of art… more like Andy Warhol than Manet, Monet, or Van Gogh.
But the Kansas City Royals still are alive and kicking in the 1980 World Series after their 4-3, 10-inning victory Friday night over Philadelphia.
The Phillies' edge in the best-of-seven series now is down to two games to one.
The K.C. victory, provided by a two-out single off the bat of Willie Mays Aikens, hardly will be viewed in years to come as a classic.
Three times, the American League champion Royals carved out a lead. And each time they, managed to blow that lead in less than five minutes.
Even the winning rally was bizarre. It featured comic overtones, sloppy baserunning, and questionable managerial strategy.
"But the bottom line about the 10th inning," said the Royals' all-world George Brett, "is that it worked."
THE FIRST THREE Kansas City hitters in the last of the 10th were the famed "W-Boys" – U.L. Washington, Willie Wilson, and Frank White... the heart and speed of the Royals' offense.
Yes, the same trio that's 5-for-38 after three Series games.
Washington [2-for-12] led off against reliever that the Phils' Larry Bowa defensed with a "matador" wave, the ball going into left field for a single. Wilson [1-for-13] was next, and, after squaring to bunt three times, drew a four-pitch walk.
Over in the dugout, things already were starting to swirl in Aikens' brain. "At that time," he said, "I knew I'd get a chance to drive fat the winning' run because I figured White would bunt 'em over and they'd walk Brett. With the season Brett has had, they'd never let George do it."
Not a bad analysis. But a few subplots were injected into the script before Aikens' visions came true.
FIRST, WHITE missed a bunt attempt and Washington was cut down at third on a steal attempt for the first out [making people wonder if the "U.L." stood for "useless"].
"The guy on second always tries to get a jump on a play like that, and he got too far off base in his eagerness to get to third," said Royals Manager Jim Frey, The Great Absolver. "Maybe it was a set play for them; You usually try to throw a curve or a slider in a situation like that because if the batter misses, you have the baserunner in some jeopardy. I don't know that it was a set play, but I do know I was using it in the minors 30 years ago."
Coming back to the present, White 2-for-13 encored his missed bunt by striking out. Already, the tarnish was starting to collect on his MVP trophy from the American League championship series.
So, with the speedy Wilson [79 thefts] on first and two down, what next?
DO YOU LET him try to steal and thus create an intentional pass for Brett, whose feats become more superhuman by the day? [George came off his hospital bed Friday night – hemorrhoid operation, you know – to hit a homer and double.]
Or do you freeze Wilson at first and wait for Brett to hit one through the gap that will send, Willie cruising home?
"We have a 'don't steal' sign for Wilson, but I didn't use it," said Frey.
"I kept looking down at [third base coach] Gordie Mckenzie to see if Willie was going to get a steal sign," said Brett "But then I remembered that he wasn't going to get one; that he runs on his own."
Wilson, ran on his own and stole second; Brett looked at four wide ones; and the left handed Aikens was set to step to the plate to face the left handed McGraw. Or was he?
"I really didn't, think he'd send up a hitter [John Wathan] for me," said Aikens. "He only did it once this season. He let me hit against lefties three or four times in situations like this. And each time, I got the run home."
AIKENS' AVERAGE still is perfect. He nailed a high, outside fastball from McGraw and drove it up the alley in left center.
"Never had a doubt it was a hit," said Willie. "The ball was in the gap, and [Garry] Maddox plays a real short center field. After the ball got up in the air, I knew he didn't have a chance to catch it."
The hit made a winner out of ace Kansas City reliever Dan Quisenberry, the victim of a four-run eighth-inning in Wednesday's loss to the Phils.
And, with defensive help from White, Quisenberry got some personal revenge against Phils' slugger Mike Schmidt, who nailed him for the game-winning hit Wednesday.
Schmidt, who socked a solo homer for the losers' second run Friday, failed to drive home any of the 10 Philadelphia runners he found on base during his other four times at bat.
Quisenberry induced Schmidt to fly out, with two out and two on, in the Phils' eighth.
"When you leave 15 people on base, as we did tonight, you aren't going to win many games," said Phils Manager Dallas Green.
The 15 left on base equaled a Series record for extra-inning contests. And many of the stranded runners came after a Series record nine flyball catches by Amos Otis.
Can’t keep ‘gamer’ from doing his job
By Bob Verdi, Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – George Brett, yea should pardon the expression, is no longer the butt of all those jokes. The game to him is fun again.
"All my problems are behind me now," he said, playing with words as comfortably as he plays with opposing pitchers. "Last night, I lost my hemorrhoids. Tonight, we win a ballgame. What more could I ask?”
Really, there was never much doubt that George Brett would be ready to play Friday night, ready to help the Kansas City Royals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 in 10 innings in Game 3 of the World Series. He is what the players call a "gamer," which means that only an act of Congress or an act of God keeps him out of the lineup. Even when he is in pain, and no matter where the pain is.
“I don’t think anybody really realized what he was going through the other night in Philadelphia,” teammate Willie Mays Aikens said. "Any other guy but George, he doesn't play. But he gives us as many innings as he possibly can. It's an inspiration."
The Kansas City Royals needed more than inspiration when they returned home down 2-0 in games. They needed a victory, and they needed George Brett, the gamer. It hurts him to do anything now, especially not to play, so he arose from hie hospital bed Friday morning, face down, and went to work.
"CALLED A CAB and went to the ballpark," he said. ''The driver recognized me, I think, but he didn't talk about my problem. What the heck, everybody knows about it now. I got messages from all over the world. I got one plant in the hospital, but instead of leaves, there's tubes of Preparation H hanging from the stems. Cute. At first, I was embarrassed. I wanted to keep it all a secret. But now, if everybody else is laughing, I'm gonna laugh, too. You got it, flaunt it, right?"
What George Brett has more than anything is the ability to carry his ballclub. Or better yet, to lift it off the carpet as he did in the first inning Friday night.
"The first run, any ballgame, any time, is always the toughest," he said. "Do I have an obligation to the Royals? ' Yeah, to drive in runs, not to hit home runs, but sometimes, I do both."
Against Dick Ruthven, Brett did both. Ruthven, who was destined to pitch an excellent game, dared to deliver ball inside and down to the game's best hitter with two out, none on. Brett lofted it deep to right for a home run.
"The homer was big for two reasons," said Brett. “It got our club pumped up. And it meant that I could run the bases without havine to slide. I don't know what I'm gonna do if I have to slide. But I know one thing. I wont go in on my back."
BRETT POPPED OUT in the fourth, and flied out In the sixth, all the while taking mental notes about the inordinate number of Phillies who were taking their base.
"They left 15 men on?" he said. "That's a lot, but we left a few men on in their, ballpark, too, remember. People were making a big thing about how we lost both games there. Well, it was no fun, but I think if you look at it truthfully, we deserved to win at least one of those. A big hit tonight, and maybe they beat us again. But if we got the big hit in Philly, then maybe we're ahead 2-1 instead of them."
With two out in the eighth, Brett cranked a double off Ruthven. Brett might have stretched it to a triple, but in that situation, what for? A clutch hit by Willie Aikens, and the Royals have a run. Except Ruthven made a clutch pitch, Aikens was out on strike three called, and it was still 3-3 entering the ninth. And, eventually, the 10th.
The Royals dodged the bullet in the top of that inning again, then won it, at last, in the bottom. George Brett figured in this rally, too, though he was on the outskirts of the issue.
U.L. Washington started it with a single off Tug McGraw, and through shortstop Larry Bowa. Willie Wilson walked. Washington was caught trying to steal third when Frank White bunted only air on an attempted sacrifice. That left Wilson on first [following White's strikeout] and Brett coming up. Wilson took off for second, and stole it, despite a ' pitchout.
AT FIRST, IT appeared he might have done the Phillies a favor because this provided an open invitation to complete an intentional pass to Brett, which they did. But Aikens, atoning for his failure two innings earlier, pumped a single to left center for the winning run.
"You say that what. Willie did took the bat out of my hands," said Brett, "but Willie Aikens is a good RBI man, too, and Willie Wilson gets a lot of things done for us with his running. There's no way you can argue with what happened, because we won."
George Brett was asked if he felt uncomfortable by all the attention he has been getting. First, this summer when be , chased .400. Now this.
"During the year, everybody was looking at my batting average," he said, chuckling. "Now, people are watching the way I walk. I feel a lot of eyes looking at me. And they aren't looking at my eyes or my head or my wristwatch. But, like I said, this thing has gone from being pretty painful to being pretty funny.
"Things are looking up. I'd still rather be in their position than ours, 'cause they lead us by a game. But I feel a lot better than I did a couple nights ago. I know one thing. Gonna be a long time before I eat Mexican food again. A long time."
World Series Notes (excerpt)
Another injured Royal
Chicago Tribune Press Service
MURIEL KAUFFMAN, wife of Kansas City owner Ewing Kauffman, has added herself to the team's semi-disabled list. "A man stepped on my foot in Philadelphia Wednesday," she said. "The man? Ewing, of course. My foot is quite painful because I've had a previous bone fusion in it. They took a bone out of my back and put it down there. There was quite a bit of hemorrhaging after he tromped me. But better it's a hemorrhage than a hemorrhoid."