Topeka Capital-Journal - October 18, 1980
Aikens's single in 10th revives Royals, 4-3
By Alan Eskew
KANSAS CITY -- One team, the Philadelphia Phillies, left 15 runners stranded, breaking a World Series record.
The other team, the Kansas City Royals, could not bunt when they needed to and threw to the wrong base once, which cost them a run.
And this is the World Series, featuring the two best teams in baseball.
After 10 tense innings covering three hours and 19 minutes, the Royals won their first World Series game, outlasting the Phillies 4-3.
Willie Aikens slashed a single with two outs in the 10th that scored Willie Wilson from second base with the winning run.
It was a strange scene that brought Aikens to the plate.
U.L. Washington started the inning with a single to left. Wilson walked.
That brought up Frank White, who bunted through the ball on strike two.
Washington said "on instincts" he was running. He was caught stealing third. Wilson (sic- should be White) eventually struck out.
So the Royals went from having runners on first and second with no outs to a runner on first with two outs.
Wilson stole second, but when he did he took the bat right out of George Brett's hands. Brett, who left the hospital Friday afternoon after surgery on his hemorrhoids, had homered in the first and doubled in the eighth. So the Phillies walked him intentionally.
"I knew they were going to walk George when I stole second," Wilson said. "So did George. So did (manager) Jim Frey. But Willie Aikens is hot. You can throw the ball off the top of the roof now and he'd hit it."
And hit it Aikens did. Tug McGraw, who relieved starter Dick Ruthven to start the 10th, served up a fastball on the outside of the plate to Aikens.
"I saw the ball headed for the gap and I knew (Garry) Maddox was playing a short center field," Aikens said. "As soon as I saw the ball get up in the air I knew he didn't have a chance at the ball."
Wilson was running with the sound of the bat, but not as sure as Aikens the ball was going to get by Maddox.
"At first I thought it was going right to him, but it started slicing away from him," Wilson said. "I was glad to see it get away from him. He hit that ball hard, no doubt about it."
It was almost compulsory that the Royals win. They had lost the first two games to the Phils on the road. No team has ever won the Series after losing the first three games.
"This was a must win and a tight game," said reliever and winning-pitcher Dan Quisenberry. "This was the first time in front of our fans for a week and we had to have it."
Quisenberry was the losing pitcher Wednesday night and wore two Band-Aids on his chest before the Friday game.
"That's because I got hit so hard in my last outing," Quisenberry quipped.
Quisenberry was not perfect this time, but he survived. He left two runners stranded in the ninth and Mike Schmidt lined out to White for an inning-ending double-play in the 10th.
"They hit more balls at people tonight," Quisenberry said. "It's been a long time since I've seen a ball hit to my left that was not speared by Frank White.
"All my fielders will get Gold Gloves and a pack of Rolaids, too."
The Royals scored single runs in the first, fourth and seventh innings, but each time the Phillies responded by scoring a run in the next inning.
"They kept coming back," Wilson said. "I talked to the other outfielders and we said we can't hold leads, how many runs do we need? Then it happened where we scored and they couldn't come up to bat anymore."
The Royals went ahead in the first inning when Brett homered to right and received a standing ovation and had to reappear from the dugout to tip his cap ot the 42,380 screaming fans.
The Phils tied it in the third when Manny Trillo had an infield single, Larry Bowa singled to right and Bob Boone walked to load the bases with one out.
Lonnie Smith then hit a hot grounder back to Royals' starter Rich Gale, who threw to first base instead of throwing home to force out Trillo.
"I didn't even try to go to the plate," Gale said. "I looked to second and the runner was only halfway down, but nobody was covering the bad. I'm heavily criticized for throwing to first, but my thinking is we have somebody covering second, that we'll get a double play."
The Royals went ahead briefly in the fourth when Aikens hit his first triple in 1,032 major league at bats. Hal McRae singled Aikens home.
Gale could not hold the lead, giving up a lead-off homer ot Schmidt to open the fifth. Gale failed to finish the fifth as Renie Martin relieved him.
Amos Otis, who set a World Series record for outfielders with nine outs, put the Royals ahead 3-2 in the seventh when he hit an opposite-field homer off Ruthven, who had retired the previous nine batters.
Martin could not keep that lead. Pete Rose, hitless in his previous 10 Series at bats, clubbed a soft liner to right field that scored Bowa, who had three hits.
That finished Martin. Quisenberry was wheeled in for more anxious moments.
The Royals will try to even up the Series in Game 4 Saturday afternoon with Larry Christenson, 5-1, and Dennis Leonard, 20-11, the probable starters. Leonard lost the opening game after the Royals had provided him with a 4-0 advantage.