Thirty years ago today, on October 19, 1985, the Kansas City Royals, winners of the American League Eastern Division and the American League Championship Series, hosted the St. Louis Cardinals, winners of the National League Eastern Division and the National League Championship series, in the first game of the World Series at Royal’s Stadium.
The Royals had beaten the Toronto Blue Jays, winners of the Eastern Division, and the Cardinals had beaten the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of the Eastern Division, in their League Championship series, to advance to the World Series.
In 1985, there were only 26 Major League Baseball teams. There were 14 in the American League and 12 in the National League with each league divided into two divisions, east and west, seven in each division in the American and six in each in the National.
Interestingly enough, this season, thirty years later, those same four teams, the Royals, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Dodgers, finished the season with the best records in their respective divisions again and advanced to the Playoffs. All four were favored to win over their Division Series opponent and all four lost two of their first three games.
The Cardinals were eliminated by the Chicago Cubs, who finished last in their Division last year, in the NLDS, three games to one and will not make the World Series this year. The Mets defeated the Dodgers and are up two games to none on the Cubs in the NLCS.
The Royals rallied to get by the Houston Astros, who had finished fourth in their Division last year, in the ALDS, three games to two, and are still in the race for the 2015 World Series, winning the first two games of the ALCS from the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays came back and beat the Rangers, who had finished last in their Division last year, and lost the first two games of the ALCS to the Royals.
The 1985 Series was one of the most exciting ever. The Royals got the lead in the second inning of Game 1, when catcher Jim Sundberg walked, right fielder Darryl Motley singled and first baseman Steve Balboni singled to left to score Sundberg. The Cards got it back in the third, when third baseman Terry Pendleton walked, catcher Darrell Porter singled to left, pitcher John Tudor sacrificed and center fielder Willie McGee grounded out to second and Pendleton scored to make it 1-1.
The Cards got another in the fourth on back to back doubles by left fielder Tito Landrum and right fielder Cesar Cedeno and added an insurance run in the ninth when second baseman Tom Herr singled and first baseman Jack Clark doubled him in to make the final 3-1. Tudor got the win and Todd Worrell, who pitched the last 2 1/3, the save.
In Game 2, the Cardinals’ Danny Cox and the Royals’ Charlie Liebrandt dueled through seven innings. Cox left after seven behind 2-0. It stayed that way until the top of the ninth when the Cards got to Liebrandt for four runs. McGee doubled, Clark singled to drive him in, Landrum doubled to put runners on second and third with the score 2-1. Cedeno was walked to load the bases and Pendleton hit a bases clearing double to make it 4-2. Ken Dayley who pitched a scoreless eighth for St. Louis, got the win and Jeff Lahti shut out the Royals in the ninth for the save.
The Cardinals were headed back home with a two game lead in the series. The Royals’ Brett Saberhagen pitched a complete game in Game 3, holding the Cards to one run on six hits as his mates were scoring six off Joaquim Andujar and three Cardinal relievers to win 6-1 to make it two games to one. Royals’ second baseman, Frank White, had a homer, three RBI’s and scored two runs.
The Cards took the Royals to the brink of elimination in Game 4 behind a complete game shutout by John Tudor who got his second win. Bud Black gave up all three Cardinal runs in his five innings, including solo homers by Landrum in the second and McGee in the third.
The Royals avoided elimination in Game 5, behind Danny Jackson, who pitched a complete game, giving up just one run on five hits, as the Royals won by a score of 6-1, again. After both teams got one in the first, the Royals got three in the second on a double by Sundberg, a single by shortstop Buddy Biancalana, scoring Sundberg, and, after left fielder Lonnie Smith walked, center fielder Willie Wilson tripled in two more to make it 4-1. The Royals added two more later and the series went back to Kansas City with the Cards up 3-2.
Game 6 was a classic pitcher’s duel. Cox started for St. Louis and Liebrandt for Kansas City. Going to the top of the eight it was 0-0 and Pendleton singled and Cedeno walked. Brian Harper, hitting for Cox singled in Pendleton with the first run of the game and it was 1-0 with the Royals down to their last six outs. Dayley came in to pitch the last of the eighth for the Cards and held the Royals scoreless.
Pinch hitter Jorge Orta and Balboni singled to start the ninth for the Royals and, after one out, a passed ball put runners on second and third. Pinch hitter Hal McRae was intentionally walked to load the bases and another pinch hitter, Dane Iorg, singled to right to drive in two and the Royals had avoided elimination again.
Game 7 was anti-climactic as the Royals got two in the second, three in the third, including a two run homer by Motley, and six in the fifth and won the game, 11-0. Saberhagen pitched another complete game holding the Cards to five hits. John Tudor, starting his third game of the series for the Cards, was rocked for five runs on just three hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings.
The Royals, down 3-1 after four games had come back to win in seven games, outscoring the Cardinals 19-2 over the last three games and their starters had given up just two runs in 25 innings over those three games. They had gotten three complete games out of their starters and a 1.89 ERA out of the entire staff in the seven game series. Brett Saberhagen, who pitched two complete game wins, giving up just one run, was named Most Valuable Player.
The Royals’ George Brett and the Cards Ozzie Smith, both future Hall of Famers, had won their respective League Championship Series MVP awards that year. However, Smith went 2 for 23 in the World Series and scored only one run and Brett, while going 10-27 at the plate, had only one RBI in the Series.
It was a classic World Series with a thrilling, come from behind finish. Thirty years later, we look like we’re headed for another great one, no matter who gets there.