Topeka Capital-Journal - October 22, 1980

Royals hitless in the clutch


By Bob Hentzen


PHILADELPHIA -- As second baseman Frank White put it, "It's all over. The End."


The Kansas City Royals, though, died hard in the World Series Tuesday night. In both the eighth and ninth innings they loaded thet bases, but got only one run out of those opportunities.


In the eighth, they had the guys they wanted at the plate.


George Brett got his shot with two on and two out against Tug McGraw. "I was only thinking of hitting the ball," said Brett. "He struck me out Sunday."


Brett did hit the ball, a grounder in the hole between first and second that he beat out. "With Mac up, I was very confident," said Brett.


The count went to 3-2 on Hal McRae before he grounded to Manny Trillo to leave the Royals still trailing 4-1.


"I did the best I could," said McRae. "I was thinking home run until it was 3 and 2. Then I just wanted to make contact."


Was he sure the 3-2 pitch ws a strike? "I wasn't going to get called out with the bases loaded in the World Series," he said. "That's the worst thing I could do.


"We had shots against him (McGraw)," McRae also said. "I had shot against him two days in a row and I could have beat him two days in a row."


That wasn't the Royals final threat, however. Again they packed the bases in the ninth as the crowd of 65,838 agonized.


But this time it was up to two slumping hitters. Frank White, who hadn't collected a hit since the first game of the Series, fouled out on McGraw's first pitch. That's the one that popped out of catcher Bob Boone's glove and into the mitt of first baseman Pete Rose.


"I've dropped a few and no one ever was near me to catch it," observed Brett.


White didn't want to talk about that at bat. "It doesn't do any good to talk about it," he said. "This is the end of a great year and we'll try to come back next year. It's the end of the chapter. It's over."


But it's never over until it's over and the Royals had one more shot with Willie Wilson, who for a record 12th time in the Series struck out. It was over.


Wilson was testy with reporters, explaining, "I'm a (bleep-bleep) loser."


He also told the writers, "If you want to say I lost it, if you want to say I didn't get on base, go ahead."


Wilson also said, "I haven't struck out 12 times in six games in I don't know how long. I was just trying too hard, trying to do things I'm not capable of doing. I tried to hit the ball hard when I didn't have to hit the ball hard."


Brett also was irritable, both over the loss and also a story that appeared in a Chicago newspaper quoting him as criticizing first baseman Willie Aikens.


"Are you the guy from Chicago who wrote that (bleep)?" Brett kept asking writers he didn't know.


"I don't know what's worse, losing or answering questions six times," he said at another point.


But even though they'd lost it, the Royals had experienced a World Series.


"When I'm old and gray and have grandchildren, I can tell them I played in a World Series," said bachelor Brett.


There were no tears in the Royals locker room.


"You want to win, but you also want to play good," said White. "I think we played good. The guys have got to be happy. We had a helluva year."


The Royals will find out, no doubt, that their fans agree with White when they return to Kansas City Wednesday for a parade in their honor.