Baseball-Almanac.com's World Series section
Chapter 8: The 1980's
1980: Philadelphia Phillies (4) vs. Kansas City Royals (2)
77 years after the inaugural Fall Classic, only 1 original team remained without at least 1 World Championship title. That club belonged to Philadelphia and despite winning National League pennants in 1915 and 1950; the Phillies were still waiting to go the distance after 98 seasons. Their opponents, the Kansas City Royals weren't strangers to 2nd place either. One step away from World Series appearances in '76, '77 and '78, both teams had suffered heartbreaking losses in 3 consecutive Championship Series. After losing all 3 AL versions to New York, Kansas City swept the perennial champions in 1980 after a 3-game playoff series. Throughout the 1970's, both ball clubs had come up short time and time again and it was fitting that they both reached the summit concurrently to face one another in baseball's most coveted contest.
As Game 1 opened at Veterans Stadium, Royals veteran Amos Otis nailed a 2-run homer for his first Series at-bat and teammate Willie Aikens followed with a 1-on blast of his own. Dennis Leonard (a 20-game winner) took the mound in the bottom of the inning tasked with protecting the 4-0 lead, but Philadelphia erupted with a 5-run blitz that included a 3-run homer by Bake McBride. Then the NL champions scored 2 more over the next 2 innings with Bob Boone delivering his 2nd run-scoring double and Garry Maddox adding a sacrifice fly. Aikens answered back with his 2nd, 2-run homer of the night in the 8th, but the comeback Phillies were still left clinging to a 7-6 lead. Tug McGraw came in as relief over Bob Walk in the final inning and managed to hold off the Royals for 3 quick outs and the opening game win.
Once again, the Vet belonged to "the vet" as Otis knocked a 2-run double off Phillies standout Steve Carlton for the 3-2 lead in the 7th-inning of Game 2. John Wathan followed and proceeded to send the Royal workhorse home with a sacrifice fly as Dan Quisenberry was sent in to protect the lead. Working in relief of Larry Gura, Quisenberry sent the first 3 Philly batters back to the bench, but ran into trouble in the 8th. Surrendering 4-hits (resulting in 4-runs) the Kansas City ace watched his team's lead vanish thanks to McBride (who singled home the tying run) and Mike Schmidt (who doubled his team ahead). Ron Reed was sent in from the home team bullpen in the 9th and held onto the advantage for a 6-4 victory.
Adding to the Royals 0-2 frustrations was the untimely removal of standout George Brett, who had almost caught Ted Williams' record of .400 during the regular season but came up just short (in true Royals fashion) at .390. The All-Star 3rd-baseman was suffering from an acute case of hemorrhoids, and was immediately scheduled to undergo minor-surgery. After leaving the hospital on the day of Game 3, a pain-free Brett returned to the diamond and removed all doubts with a 1st-inning homer off the Phillies' Dick Ruthven. Both teams continued to trade runs (including another home run by Otis) and at the end of regulation, the scoreboard read 3-3. Kansas City was determined to prevent another Philadelphia comeback and Aikens came through in the bottom of the 10th with a 2-out single that scored Willie Wilson for the 4-3 triumph. The multi-talented 1st baseman had continued to come up clutch with a 2-run homer in the Royals' 1st and a bases-empty shot in the 2nd. The 2 drives made Aikens the first man in history to connect for a pair of 2-homer games in one Series.
In Game 4, a rejuvenated Royals team held the Phillies to a 0-0 tie going into the 4th and for the first time in the tournament, prepared to take the lead. After Schmidt broke the tie by depositing a Gura pitch over the wall for a 2-run advantage, Kansas City answered back with some fancy "woodwork" of their own. Brett "got the ball rolling" and took rookie Marty Bystrom for a RBI groundout in the 5th. Next, Otis added a 3rd homer to his stats and finally, U.L. Washington nailed a sac-fly for the 3-2 lead in the 6th. Gura struggled in the 7th with a 2-on, 1-out situation, but Quisenberry came to his rescue and maintained the 1-run decision going into the 9th. Down again, but far from out, the Philadelphia line-up decided it was their turn to repeat history. First, Schmidt led off with a single and pinch-hitter Del Unser brought him home with a double. After Keith Moreland sacrificed Unser to 3rd, Maddox grounded out holding him on the bag. Manny Trillo followed with a line drive off Quisenberry's glove and Unser sped home for the go-ahead run. Philly's McGraw continued his inconsistency on the mound after issuing 3-walks in the bottom of the 9th, but Royal Jose Cardenal fanned for 3 and the final out of the game.
Carlton (a 24-game winner) was handed the ball for Game 6 and responded with an early lead thanks to Schmidt's 2 RBIs in the 3rd. Despite plans for a complete game, the Philly ace was pulled in the 8th after stumbling down the stretch and allowing the first 2 Kansas City batters to reach base. Despite his previous outing, McGraw was called again and managed to load the bases 3 times in the last 2 innings while surrendering only 1 run. As the Royals loaded the bases with 1-out in the 9th, the left-hander induced Frank White to hit a high foul pop near the Philly dugout. As catcher Bob Boone drew under it, the ball bounced in and out of his mitt. Luckily, 1st baseman Pete Rose was also giving chase and narrowly grabbed the disastrous deflection protecting the 4-1 triumph. Not only had White failed to bring home a single base runner in his final at-bat, he had also struck out for the 12th time (a humiliating Series record). "Runner-Up" was familiar territory for the Kansas City franchise, while Philadelphia had finally brought a title home to "The City of Brotherly Love" after almost a centennial of trying.
1981: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (2)
One of the greatest post-season rivalries (dating back to 1941) was reset for the second Fall Classic of the 1980's. The New York Yankees had been in the hunt for more World Series Championships than any other team in professional baseball and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers were their favorite prey. In the 10 Series meetings between the 2 clubs, New York had prevailed as champs on 8 occasions (6-1 against the Brooklyn Dodgers and 2-1 against the Los Angeles version). Both teams had last met in 1978 when the Yankees lost the first 2 outings then rebounded to beat the Nationals in 4 consecutive games for the crown. After a new 2-tiered playoff system was introduced (due to a players strike that interrupted the regular season) the Yankees had won a tight divisional-playoff over the Milwaukee Brewers (3-2) and went on to sweep the Oakland A's in the AL Championship Series.
As Game 1 started, New York showed the hometown crowd why they still were "The Greatest Show on Earth". Bob Watson opened it up with a 3-run homer in the 1st (off Jerry Reuss) and his teammates collected single runs in the 3rd and 4th innings, for a 5-1 lead going into the 8th. A confidant Yankees skipper Bob Lemon replaced starter Ron Guidry with Ron Davis, who unfortunately walked the only 2 batters he faced. Attempting to divert a comeback, Goose Gossage was brought in, but he also yielded a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Jay Johnstone and a sacrifice fly to Dusty Baker. Despite the setback, he managed to get out of the inning thanks to 3rd baseman Graig Nettles who made a clutch, diving grab of a Steve Garvey line drive that appeared headed for the far left-field corner. After Ron Cey followed with a ground out, the nervous bullpen leader and his amazing infielder emerged as 5-3 winners.
Tommy John (a former Dodger who had crossed to sign with the Yanks after the '78 season) was given the start against his former mates in Game 2. Together with Gossage, he managed to hold LA to 4 meaningless hits on the road to a 3-0 victory. Shortstop Larry Milbourne garnered New York's only extra-base hit, (a 5th-inning double that drove in the first run) as the Yankees extended their Series winning streak against the Dodgers to 6 games.
Having played 10 postseason games before the World Series ever started (5 against the Houston Astros in the divisional playoffs and 5 more against the Montreal Expos in the Championship Series) Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda's team had come too far to give up now. Their postseason marathon was nearing the home stretch and they were falling behind fast. The skipper had been eagerly awaiting the chance to introduce their new rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela to the Yankees and Game 3 provided the perfect opportunity. A good fit to face the "Bombers"; the lefty had pitched 5 shutouts in his first 7 games and wound up with 8 total in a 13-7 season. Despite his outstanding numbers, the inexperienced 20 year-old surrendered 9-hits (including homers to Watson and Rick Cerone) and 7 walks, but somehow managed to hold on for the 5-4 win on Cey's 3-run blast in the 1st, Pedro Guerrero's RBI double in the 5th and Mike Scioscia's run-producing double-play grounder that followed.
Bob Welch drew for the start for Game 4, but failed to retire a single batter as LA fell behind 6-3 early on. The Dodgers managed to tie it up in the 6th after Jay Johnstone hammered a 2-run pinch-homer and Davey Lopes (who reached 2nd on a rare Reggie Jackson error) stole 3rd and scored on a Bill Russell single. The comeback ignited a spark in LA's line-up and they continued to burn the Yankee rotation in the 7th on Steve Yeager's sacrifice fly and Lopes' run-scoring infield hit that put them ahead 8-6. "Mr. October" who was attempting to make amends for the costly fielding error in the 6th, erased the memory with a beautiful "tape-measure" homer to right-center in the 8th. Although it shortened the gap, it was all the Yanks could muster and the home team went on to tie the Series up with an 8-7 victory.
Guidry and Reuss returned to face each other again in Game 5 with Reuss coming out on top 2-1 after Guerrero and Yeager both slugged back-to-back homers in the 7th-inning. As the Series shifted back to the Bronx, both teams remained deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 4th when Lemon elected to use a pinch-hitter in place of starting pitcher John. The decision proved devastating as New York failed to score in the inning and John was rendered ineligible for the rest of the contest. As reliever George Frazier came in to pick up the pieces, he was quickly taken for 3-runs in the 5th. Guerrero later added a 2-run single and a bases-empty homer while his 5 RBIs highlighted the Dodgers' Series-clinching 9-2 triumph. Losing pitcher Frazier had suffered his 3rd consecutive defeat, equaling the Series record established by Claude Williams of the 1919 Black Sox. Like the Yanks had done to them in '78, the Dodgers had come behind from a 2-0 deficit to defeat New York in 4 straight. Many Yankees fans blamed Lemon for sacrificing John so early in the game and as a result, the Series. The decision would prove costly on many fronts and his tenure with the "Pinstripes" would soon be at an end.
1982: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (3)
In 1982, the surprising Brewers stormed their way to the top of the American League for their first World Series appearance 12 years after moving to Milwaukee (from Seattle) as the expansion Pilots. Manager Harvey Kuenn had assembled a defensively dominant line-up that featured Mike Caldwell and ace reliever Rollie Fingers on the mound as well as outstanding infield play from shortstop Robin Yount. Milwaukee was no joke at the plate either knocking out 216 homers during the regular season and earning the nickname "Harvey's Wallbangers". Unlike their AL opponents, the National League's St. Louis Cardinals, were no strangers to postseason play as they prepared to enter their 13th Fall Classic. If victorious, the "Redbirds" would emerge as #2 on the all-time titles list with their 9th crown (2nd only to the Yankees with 22 at the time).
Apparently, inexperience and home-field advantage were not factors in Game 1 as the Brewers tagged 4 different Cardinals' pitchers for a shocking 17-hit, 10-0 affair. Paul Molitor, Milwaukee's leadoff specialist set a new World Series record with 5-hits and Yount followed close behind with 4. Caldwell tossed a 3-hit masterpiece and Ted Simmons (a former Card) rubbed it in the face of former fans at Busch Memorial Stadium with a "wallbanger" of his own. Game 2 also appeared to belong to the rookies, but the home team found the resolve after trailing 4-2 midway through the contest. The turnaround was due in part to an unlikely hero named Darrell Porter. An "underachieving" free-agent (who had signed in 1980 to replace Simmons behind the plate) Porter had put up "less-than-stellar" numbers in his first 2 years making him "less-than-popular" with the fans. All that would change though as the catcher nailed a critical 2-out, 2-run double in the 6th to turn St. Louis in the right direction. With the game deadlocked at 4-4 in the 8th, Card's pinch-hitter Steve Braun managed a bases-loaded walk off reliever Pete Ladd for the 1-run advantage. The lead stood through the final inning thanks to ace reliever Bruce Sutter and the Series was tied at a game apiece.
Another unlikely MVP candidate, rookie Willie McGee (who had managed 4 homers all season) stepped up in Game 3 and knocked not 1, but 2 blasts of his own out of Milwaukee's County Stadium. Along with his 1-man, home run derby that tallied 4 RBIs, McGee also made two spectacular defensive plays in center field. First, he caught a 400-foot Molitor drive in the 1st inning. Then he robbed Gorman Thomas of a home run in the 9th with a leaping, above the fence snag. Despite the 6-2 win, the Cardinals had still suffered a loss with an untimely injury to starting pitcher Joaquin Andujar (who was working a 3-hitter when he took a Simmons liner in the knee). At first Game 4 appeared to belong to the Cardinals again as they entered the 7th with a 5-1 advantage, but the "never-say-die" Brewers came back with a tenacious, 6-run rally in which Yount and Thomas both connected for 2-run singles on the way to a 7-5 turnaround. Caldwell returned to face Bob Forsch in Game 5 planning to repeat his opening performance, but was ultimately crushed for 14-hits. Unbelievably, the horrendous effort was good enough to win (after 2-out relief from Bob McClure) thanks to Yount who saved the day with another 4-hit performance that set a record for the first player to have 2, 4-hit games in World Series competition.
Now down 3-games-to-1, the Cardinals returned home determined to find the resolve much like their rivals had. Rookie John Stuper took the team on his back and threw a complete-game, 4-hitter (allowing only 1-run) as his teammates followed suite tagging the visitors for an embarrassing 13-runs. Keith Hernandez and Porter both belted 2-run homers and Hernandez wound up with 4 RBIs. Dane Iorg (St. Louis' designated hitter) drilled 2 doubles and added a triple in the slugfest as well. A rejuvenated St. Louis team returned for Game 7 with a rested and rejuvenated Andujar. The recovering ace remained strong against Pete Vuckovich, despite entering the bottom of the 6th down 3-1. Inspired by their injured teammate's exertion, the Cardinals got a game-tying bases-loaded single from Hernandez and a go-ahead base hit from George Hendrick. Porter came up clutch again with a run-scoring single in the 8th that was equally matched by Braun for the insurance run. Despite their best efforts, Milwaukee fell 6-3 and the NL champs went on to become World Champions second only to the New York Yankees in all-time wins.
1983: Philadelphia Phillies (1) vs. Baltimore Orioles (4)
After opening the decade with their first World Championship, Philadelphia returned to the "Big Show" hoping to repeat their award-winning performance. With a roster full of 35-42 year-old veterans, the '83 Phillies were among the oldest in the National League and were a stark contrast to their opponents, the AL's Baltimore Orioles. John Denny was Philly manager Paul Owens' choice for Game 1 and the 30 year-old "youngster" went up against Series vet Scott McGregor. Joe Altobelli's "Blackbirds" took an early lead when their 2nd batter, Jim Dwyer sent a Denny fastball deep into the stands, but Sparkplug Morgan tied it up with a 2-out homer in the Philadelphia 6th. Both teams remained locked in a 1-1 tie as McGregor returned to the mound in the top of the 8th. In a strange twist, an excruciating 5 minutes passed before the lefthander was allowed to deliver the first pitch to officially start the inning. In what had become a Classic tradition, President Ronald Reagan was in attendance and had given an impromptu, 3-minute interview that ran well into the scheduled commercial time. After the lengthy pause, a cold McGregor finally sent his first offering to Garry Maddox who promptly sent it back for the go ahead run. Despite the obvious argument that the delay had affected their pitcher, the Orioles were given no reprieve as reliever Al Holland and the Phillies moved on for the 2-1 win.
Still disturbed by the controversy over Game 1, Baltimore came back in the second outing with Mike Boddicker extracting revenge with a vicious, 3-hitter. Philadelphia's Charles Hudson had tossed shutout ball through the 4th-inning, but surrendered 3, 5th-inning runs as John Lowenstein homered, Rick Dempsey added a run-scoring double and Boddicker aided his own cause with a sac-fly for the 4-1 triumph. As the Series shifted to "The City of Brotherly Love", a crafty Owens startled the hometown crowd by replacing 3,900 hit man, Pete Rose with Tony Perez in an attempt to generate some fresh offense. With the home team leading 2-1 in the 6th, Steve Carlton was showing signs of fatigue in the on-deck circle. As the Philly manager debated pulling the 300-game winner for a pinch-hitter, Carlton convinced him not to. The decision not to force a call to the bullpen proved costly as Carlton fanned with 2 on and 2 out. He later went on to retire the first 2 Baltimore batters in the 7th, but gave up a critical double to Dempsey (who later advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch). Benny Ayala took advantage of the weary pitcher and followed with a timely pinch-single to tie it up. Angry for not going with his first instincts, Owens summoned Al Holland for relief. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late and John Shelby took the left-hander for a clutch single that scored the 3-2 game winner.
Game 4 mostly belonged to the Orioles' Rich Dauer who had 3-hits and collected 3-runs. In an unprecedented move, Altobelli had sent up 4 consecutive pinch-hitters in the 6th. The daring strategy soon proved brilliant as Baltimore overcame a 3-2 deficit on the way to a 5-4 finale. Ken Singleton (the 2nd substitute batter) drew a game-tying, bases-loaded walk and Shelby (pinch-hitter #3) sealed the deal with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. When it was over, Philadelphia slumped in disbelief after giving up another late-inning lead. The "Blackbirds" had beaten the odds for the 3rd consecutive time and drew 9-innings closer to their 3rd World Series title. In the end, the dejected Philadelphia team was never able to recover from the successive comebacks as the Orioles promptly ended the contest with a 5-0 mercy killing in Game 5. As a testament to the pitching staffs on both sides, the tournaments 2 biggest hitters, Baltimore's Cal Ripken and Philly's Mike Schmidt went 3-for-18 and 1-for-20 respectively. "The Iron Man's" teammate, Eddie Murray, had also struggled but managed 2-homers and 3 RBIs in the finale after going 2-for-16 in the first 4 outings.
1984: San Diego Padres (1) vs. Detroit Tigers (4)
The Detroit Tigers were World Series bound right from the start of the regular season, winning 35 of their first 40 games and finishing with 104 wins (a 15-game lead ahead of their nearest competition). After sweeping the Kansas City Royals for the AL pennant, the "Beast from the East" set its sights on the crowning achievement that would come at the expense of the NL's San Diego Padres (who were making their World Series debut). Game 1 set the tone for the contest as Mark Thurmond managed to last 5-innings with a 2-1 lead, but surrendered a crucial 2-out, 2-run homer to Larry Herndon in the 5th. Graig Nettles and Terry Kennedy both singled to open the San Diego 6th, but the Tiger's Jack Morris (a 19-game winner) snuffed out their momentum by striking out the rest of the side. Kurt Bevacqua continued the fleeting comeback with a leadoff double in the 7th, but was thrown out at 3rd while attempting to stretch the bases. Despite the close call, Morris remained focused and sat down the last 9 remaining Padre batters for the 3-2 victory.
Game 2 started as the opener had ended with the Tigers line-up driving San Diego starter Ed Whitson from the mound in the 1st-inning with 3 opening runs. Despite the early deficit, Andy Hawkins and Craig Lefferts came in as relief and managed to save the outing with a little help from Bevacqua who was playing the role of designated hitter. Hawkins entered the contest with 2-out in the 1st and tossed 5 1/3 innings of 1-hit ball and Lefferts finished the job by striking out 5 Tigers in 3 scoreless innings. Still trailing 3-2 in the 5th, Bevacqua had stepped up to the plate and nailed a clutch, 3-run homer off Dan Petry for the lead. The 5-3 advantage remained with the San Diego bullpen completing the job that their rivals had initially started. Their magnificent efforts were quickly forgotten though when they issued 11-walks in the first 5-innings for an embarrassing 5-3 effort the following day. Padres' starter Tim Lollar gave up 4 hits (including a 2-run homer to Marty Castillo), 4 walks and 4 runs alone before leaving with 2-out in the 2nd.
Morris returned for the 4th meeting determined to maintain the control he had shown in the Series opener and recorded his 2nd complete game with a brilliant 5-hitter that edged the NL champs to the brink of elimination. Alan Trammell supported the 4-2 effort by contributing all of Detroit's runs with 2, 2-run homers off of Eric Show in the 1st and 3rd innings. Game 5 belonged to lumberjack Kirk Gibson who dropped 2 bombs into the upper-decks in the 1st and 8th-innings. As strong around the bases as he was at the plate, the speedster took the lead in the 5th after stealing home on a shallow fly ball to right field. Lance Parrish also sent one bouncing into the cheap seats and relievers Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez (19-4 record and 46 saves combined) held the Padres at bay for the 8-4, clinching triumph. Detroit had truly gone the distance (all the way from opening day), proving themselves as the best team in baseball. However, San Diego deserved some of the credit for the Tigers good fortune too. After all, in 10 1/3-innings, the Padres rotation had combined for a humiliating 13.94 ERA. In addition to bringing home Detroit's 4th title, manager Sparky Anderson also became the first skipper to guide 2 separate franchises to World Series victories after winning with the Cincinnati Reds in both '75 and '76.
1985: St. Louis Cardinals (3) vs. Kansas City Royals (4)
After winning 7 West Division Titles, 2 American League pennants and participating in 5 out of the last 10 Championship Series (76, 77, 78, 80, 85) the Kansas City Royals were still searching for that 1st elusive World Series title. The National League's St. Louis Cardinals had played in 13 Fall Classics, won 9 of them and entered the '85 contest #2 on the all-time world titles list (13 behind the Yankees). With 2 powerhouses on the scorecard, the mid-80's Classic promised to be a close race and most experts believed that it would all come down to pitching. The theory proved feasible as both clubs boasted stacked rotations including the Royals' Bret Saberhagen (20-6 record) and the Cards' John Tudor (21-8). As the Series opened up at Royals Stadium, Tudor set the pace with a dominant debut that sent the home team home with a 3-1 defeat. The following day Charlie Leibrandt turned the tables and was throwing a 2-0 masterpiece going into the final inning with 3 more outs to go. What appeared to be the sweet taste of victory for manager Dick Howser's Royals quickly turned sour as Jack Clark knocked in Willie McGee and it was all down hill from there. Tito Landrum followed with a double down the right field line that sent Clark to 3rd and as the threatening Cesar Cedeno stepped to the plate, the Royal ace was forced to intentionally walk him. Now with the bases loaded, the strategy proved costly as Terry Pendleton doubled down the line in left, sending Clark, Landrum and Cedeno across the plate for the 4-2 comeback.
Now down 2 games to none, the sinking Royals entrusted Saberhagen to right their course as they entered the hostile waters of Busch Memorial Stadium. The sophomore right-hander got right down to business despite the distraction of his pregnant wife who was due any minute with their first child. In between flashing messages from the team's bench to his spouse, the expectant father tossed a brilliant 6-hit, 8-K performance. Former Cardinal Lonnie Smith led the 6-1 offensive effort with a 2-run double off Joaquin Andujar in the 4th and teammate Frank White followed close behind with an RBI double and 2-run homer of his own. Tudor returned for Game 4 and held the AL champs to 5-hits with home-run backing from both Landrum and McGee. Landrum (in for the injured Vince Coleman) nailed a solo blast off Bud Black in the 2nd and McGee went on to match him in the 3rd. Later in the 5th, Tom Nieto added a perfect squeeze-bunt and the Cardinals moved 2 games up with the 3-0 triumph. The deficit was familiar territory for the Royals who had trailed the Toronto Blue Jays 3 games to 1 in the AL Championship and Howser and company weren't panicking yet.
The Cardinals planned to eliminate their opponents in Game 5 and started veteran Bob Forsch against a much younger and inexperienced Danny Jackson. Both teams struck for single runs in the 1st-inning, but KC added 3 more in the second including a 2-run triple by Willie Wilson. The surprise attack drove Forsch off the mound, but his rookie rival continued for a complete 5-hit, 6-1 victory that brought the Series back home. Leibrandt headed to the mound for Game 6 and continued to pitch scoreless ball well into the 7th-inning. Neither team changed the board though as Danny Cox matched the shutout and added 8Ks going into the 8th. Brian Harper (who had substituted Cox at the plate) finally managed to break through the duel with a clutch, 2-out single that scored Pendleton who was stranded on 2nd. Key Dayley replaced the departed Cox and worked a scoreless effort going into the bottom of the 9th. In a brilliant move, Howser sent in Darryl Motley (a right handed pinch-batter) to face the left handed closer. St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog caught the move and called for right-hander Todd Worrell to replace Dayley. As the chess game continued, Howser countered with Jorge Orta in place of Motley. The lefty responded with a hot grounder towards 1st baseman Jack Clark who fielded it with a toss to the covering pitcher. Umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe although everyone else in the park was convinced he had trailed Worrell by a step. Television replays indicated Denkinger was wrong, but the contested runner remained on 1st. Steve Balboni followed Orta with a textbook pop-out, but Clarke (still upset from the blown call) was unable to field the ball. Now with 2-runners on (including pinch-runner Onix Concepcion) Jim Sundberg bunted into a force out at 3rd. As the revolving line-ups continued, Hal McRae stepped to the plate (for Buddy Biancalana) and was intentionally walked after Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter committed a passed ball that advanced all runners. Dane Iorg brought Concepcion home with a single to right followed close behind by Sundberg who avoided Porter's tag at home and the Royals tied the Series with the 2-1 victory.
Saberhagen was the obvious choice for the grand finale (despite becoming a father the day before) and the proud parent obliterated the Cards with a brilliant 5-hit shut out. St. Louis' rotation did not fare as well as Motley hammered a 2-run homer off Tudor in the 2nd, Balboni delivered a 2-run single in the 3-run, 3rd and Lonnie Smith launched a 2-run double in the 6-run, 5th. George Brett went 4-for-5 and Motley finished with 3 hits in the 11-0 massacre that crowned the "Comeback Kings" as World Series Champions. After almost a decade of "close, but no cigar" the Royals (and Saberhagen) finally had both.
1986: New York Mets (4) vs. Boston Red Sox (3)
The Boston Red Sox finally returned to the Fall Classic after an 11-year hiatus determined to shake the "Curse of the Bambino" once and for all. Although the "Beantown Bombers" had appeared in 9 previous World Series contests (winning 5), their last championship title had come an agonizing 68 years prior (in 1918) when Babe Ruth pitched the Sox to 2 victories over the Chicago Cubs. This time Roger Clemens was on the hill and "the Rocket" had just completed a spectacular season in which he had compiled a 24-4 record and set a major-league mark with 20 strikeouts in a single regulation game. The New York Mets were making their 3rd World Series appearance (winning last in 1969) and totaled 108 regular season wins while finishing a whopping 21 1/2 games ahead of their nearest competition. The Mets also boasted a standout pitcher in Dwight Gooden who had dominated the National League much like Clemens had against the AL. Several sports writers had hyped-up the impending showdown on the mound, and many agreed that a "shootout" was on the horizon.
Game 1 opened with both teams going neck and neck down the stretch with Boston's Bruce Hurst topping New York's Ron Darling and Roger McDowell for the 1-0 victory. Manager Dave Johnson went with the obvious choice of Gooden for Game 2, but the Red Sox managed to oust the ace and 4 of his piers (Rick Aguilera, Jesse Orosco, Sid Fernandez, and Doug Sisk) for a 9-3 victory that featured homers by Dave Henderson and Dwight Evans. Despite the win, Clemens had fared just as poor and lasted only 4 1/3 innings before being replaced by Steve Crawford. New York lefty Bob Ojeda (acquired from the Sox in '85) returned to Fenway Park for the 3rd outing and pitched 5-hit ball over 7-innings. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd took the hill for the home team, but surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced in Lenny Dykstra. The opening blast was followed by 3 more runs (including 2 off designated hitter Danny Heep's single) for a 4-0 lead in the 1st. Boyd managed to hold off the scoring for 5 more innings but stumbled again in the 7th as the Mets connected for 3 more, completing the13-hit, 7-1 derby.
New York managed to tie up the Series in Game 4 thanks to Gary Carter's 2 homers and 3 RBIs. Breaking a scoreless tie in the 4th, the All-Star catcher smacked a 2-run homer in the 4th (off Al Nipper) and a bases-empty shot in the 8th (off reliever Steve Crawford) while Dykstra added to his rapidly growing stats with an RBI blast of his own. Back on the hill, Darling managed to finish with a 6-2 decision despite walking 6 batters in 7 innings. Gooden returned for the 5th meeting determined to save face for his poor debut in Game 2 (in which the entire Mets' rotation was unable to compete) but disappointed again as the opener's winner, Bruce Hurst, overcame a twelve hit debacle to put the Sox ahead with a middle-of-the-road, 4-2 effort.
Like his struggling counterpart, Clemens was also looking for his first win and left Game 6 with a 3-2 lead. However his teammates were unable to finish the job, leaving 14 men on base and committing one of the most devastating errors in World Series history. After Henderson led off the top of the 10th with a home run against Rick Aguilera breaking the 3-3 tie, Boston increased its lead to 5-3 as Wade Boggs doubled and Marty Barrett singled him home. Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi (who yielded the tying run in the 8th) retired the Mets' first 2 batters in the 10th, (Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez) moving Boston to within one out of the World Series title. Carter prolonged the anxious fans tension with a clutch single and Kevin Mitchell followed with another base hit. Schiraldi regained his composure and managed a no-ball, 2-strike count on New York's Ray Knight, but the 3rd baseman made contact on his next offering, scoring Carter and moving Mitchell to 3rd. Anticipating a disaster, Bob Stanley was called in and matched Mookie Wilson in a 10-pitch stalemate that left fans on both sides hanging on the edge of their seats. Wilson fouled off a 2-1 pitch, then sent 2 more out of bounds. As the pressure continued to build, Stanley's 7th pitch went wild, and Mitchell raced home with the game-tying run with Knight advancing to 2nd. With a full count of 3-2, Wilson finally connected fair on the 10th toss sending a short grounder along the baseline toward 1st baseman Bill Buckner. A collective sigh of relief fell over the Boston crowd in anticipation of a textbook out and a chance at redemption in the 11th-inning. However their jubilation quickly turned to shock and disbelief as the ball somehow slipped under Buckner's glove and continued to roll. As Knight bolted home for the 6-5 victory, the home crowd at Shea Stadium erupted in celebration. The Mets were still alive with or without, a little help from "The Babe". For Buckner, the costly error became a defining moment and ultimately overshadowed the rest of his career.
While the Sox had found themselves in this predicament before (1-strike away from elimination in the AL Series), many fans had already abandoned the team and Buckner was crucified in the papers for making the critical mistake. Luckily they would have 24 hours to regain their senses as Game 7 was postponed a day due to rain. 3-time winner Bruce Hurst returned for the final outing and looked to make it right again with a little help from his friends. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman both belted back-to-back homers and Boggs delivered an RBI single for a 3-0 lead going into the 6th. New York tied the game on Hernandez's bases-loaded single that scored Lee Mazzilli and Wilson while Carter's tee-shot to right brought Wally Backman home.
Schiraldi was sent in as relief in the 7th, but Knight tagged him again (as he had in Game 6) with a tie-breaking homer. Before it was over, Rafael Santana nailed a RBI single and Hernandez added a sac-fly for the 6-3 lead. Sid Fernandez had shut out Boston through the middle innings, but Roger McDowell replaced him and surrendered a 2-run double off Evans in the 8th. Jesse Orosco entered as the 3rd reliever and managed to coax Gedman to line out, Henderson to strike out and Don Baylor to bounce out. As the Mets took their turn in the bottom of the 8th, Darryl Strawberry sent one into the seats for the 8-5 advantage and it was all over from there. Orosco returned in the 9th to finish the job and struck out the side (1-2-3) crowning the NL reps as world champions. The heartbreaking loss in Game 6 still remains as the 2nd darkest day in Beantown sports history. The first of course was when a certain trade was made that still haunts the city to this day.
1987: St. Louis Cardinals (3) vs. Minnesota Twins (4)
The '87 St. Louis Cardinals had once again risen to the top of the National League with an impressive 95-67 record that granted them a first-class ticket to Minnesota and the 84th Fall Classic. Their opponents, the American League's Twins were making their first Series debut (in their own house) and posted the best home-field record in the major leagues (56-25). Game 1 looked to be in the AL's favor as the Twins had a definite advantage over visiting teams who were not used to playing in the purist's nightmare known as the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. The trendy indoor stadium with its Teflon roof, artificial turf and trash-can lining walls had been heralded as a major achievement when it opened, but the futuristic ballpark soon became unpopular with the players as the controlled air facility couldn't hold long fly balls or distribute the crowd noise. Despite their unconventional surroundings, Minnesota had assembled a strong line-up and were more than ready to show the "Redbirds" how to play inside.
As the first Classic ever to be held indoors opened, the home team's Frank Viola schooled the visiting line-up with 5-hit ball over 8-innings. In the 4th, Dan Gladden continued the math lesson with a textbook grand slam and Steve Lombardozzi added a 2-run homer for the 10-1 victory. School was back in session the following day as Randy Bush belted a 2-run double and Tim Laudner contributed a 2-run single off starter Danny Cox in the 4th. Curveball professor Bert Blyleven taught 7 innings and was an 8-4 winner for Minnesota, who had graduated from freshman to seniors with the 2-0 advantage.
The Cardinals were grateful to return to the traditional outdoor settings of their own ballpark with its green grasses and wide open spaces for Games 3-5. Les Straker kept the Twins on track after 6-innings of shutout pitching, but was replaced by Juan Berenguer after showing signs of fatigue. The substitution proved costly as the home team hammered the reliever for 3 runs and 4 hits in 1/3 of an inning. Left-hander John Tudor fared much better and showed the visitors who owned the hill at Busch Memorial Stadium. Proving there's no place like home; the Cards emerged as 3-1 winners and were back in the race. Game 4 was another close one and remained a 4-4 tie in the 4th when Tom Lawless (who had 2-hits all season and 1 homer in 215-games) shocked both benches with a 3-run blast off of Viola that pushed the Cardinals to a 7-2 victory. Once again, Cox and Blyleven matched up for Game 5 and were locked in a scoreless stalemate going into the 6th-inning. Curt Ford snapped the tie with a 2-run single in the 6th and Greg Gagne's critical error on the next at-bat netted a 3rd run for the 4-2 victors. After starting 0-2, the Cardinals had comeback for the advantage and were now standing 1 win away from another title. It wasn't over yet though as both teams headed indoors back in Twins territory.
Learning from their mistakes in Games 1 and 2, the Cardinals managed to work through the deafening crowd noise that had played as a major advantage for the home team. Focusing on the task at hand, St. Louis maintained their momentum with a 1st-inning homer courtesy of Tommy Herr. After 4 1/2 innings, the visitors had built a 5-2 lead and Tudor was brought in to close it out. Minnesota had other plans though as Kirby Puckett started the Twins' 5th with a single, Gary Gaetti doubled him home and Don Baylor followed with a home run for the 5-5 tie. Lombardozzi completed the rally with the go-ahead run off reliever Rick Horton, but the Twins were far from finished. After the Cardinals shuffled their rotation several times in the 6th (including swapping the right-handed Forsch for left-handed Ken Dayley) Kent Hrbek nailed a 2-out, grand slam that capped a Minnesota 11-5 triumph and their first World Series title. While Cardinals fans and baseball purists still scoffed at the winners gaudy facilities, the Twins looked at it differently. Their field may have been unsightly, but at least their '87 AL West, American League and World Series champion banners would always be dry.
1988: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. Oakland Athletics (1)
In 1988, the World Series Championship was transformed into a "California Classic" as the Los Angeles Dodgers went up against the neighboring Oakland Athletics. LA had benefited from the amazing arm of Orel Hershiser who had ended the regular season with a record-breaking 59 consecutive scoreless innings as well as 1 win and 4 saves in the National League Championship Series. Oakland boasted their own ace in Dave Stewart who had won 21 games during the A's quest for the AL pennant (which they won by a 13-game margin before sweeping the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs). Although relatively equal on the mound, the A's held a slight advantage at the plate after assembling the "Dynamic Duo" of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire who combined for 74 homers and 223 RBIs during the regular season. With such evenly-matched teams the Series proposed to go 7, but many experts would be surprised by the sudden outcome of the West Coast vs. West Coast affair.
Manager Tom Lasorda went with Tim Belcher in place of Hershiser for Game 1 choosing to save the right-handed ace for another day. Although he got off to a rough start, the rookie managed to work his way out of loading the bases in the 1st. After his teammates tagged Stewart for the 2-0 lead, Belcher repeated his folly by loading the bases again in the 2nd. This time he wasn't as lucky as Canseco brought them all home with the 15th grand slam in World Series history. LA's bullpen got the call early and held Oakland at bay for the remaining innings, but the damage had already been done. The Dodgers line-up crept within 4-3 in the 6th, but still trailed by 1 in the bottom of the 9th with no one on. With the A's ace reliever, Dennis Eckersley (45 saves) on the mound Oakland figured it was over, but the resilient Dodgers weren't going down without a fight. Pinch-hitter Mike Davis managed to force a walk, but Lasorda sent in a crippled Kirk Gibson to bat for their reliever Alejandro Pena. At first, the decision appeared completely irrational, but somehow the outfielder worked past his pain and launched a bleacher blast (with a 3-2 count) for the game winning run. It was the first time a World Series game had ever been won on a come-from-behind home run in the last inning and the fact that Gibson could hold his stance, let alone swing the bat made the blast even more amazing.
Hershiser finally got his chance in Game 2 and following Gibson's inspirational lead. The Dodgers' 23-game winner went 3-for-3 at the plate and tossed a 3-hit masterpiece that was supported by Mike Marshall's 3-run homer for the 6-0 triumph. As the contest moved to Oakland, the Athletics were determined to get back in the race on the bats of McGwire and Canseco. After going 0-9 in the first 2 outings, "Big Mac" finally connected and broke a 1-1 tie in Game 3 with a 9th-inning homer off Los Angeles reliever Jay Howell. The controversial closer had been suspended during the championship series for using pine tar in his glove and the last-minute loss did nothing for his fading reputation. He would have his revenge the following day though as he found himself facing McGwire again in a bases-loaded mess with 2 out in the 7th. This time, it would be the pitcher who prevailed as he induced the future home run champ to fly-out for the 4-3 final. Now up 3 games to 1, the Dodgers prepared to finish their rivals in Game 5. Hershiser returned and maintained his perfect record with a brilliant 4-hit effort that was sweetened by 9 strike outs. Mickey Hatcher set the pace with a 2-run shot off of starter Storm Davis in the 1st-inning. The unlikely hero (who had managed 1 homer during the regular season) would finish the Series with 2 homers and a leading .368 average proving the old adage "better late than never". Although it would be Davis who drilled a 2-run homer in the 4th to aid his own cause, it was not enough to compensate for his less-than-stellar performance on the mound. The Dodgers went on to win, 5-2 and wrapped up their 7th championship and 6th World Series crown.
1989: San Francisco Giants (0) vs. Oakland Athletics (4)
The final Fall Classic of the 1980's is not remembered for the games that took place within the 2 bay area ballparks. It is remembered for the tragedy and heroism that took place just outside of them. The San Francisco Giants had finally returned to post-season play after struggling for several years while rebuilding its once great dynasty. Their nearby rivals, the Oakland Athletics, had just been beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 1 and were determined to make amends for their poor showing in the '88 affair. The A's Dave Stewart took the first step in Game 1 and dominated the NL champions by pitching a 5-hit, 6K, shutout for the 5-0 opening victory. Game 2 looked very much the same as Oakland's rotation ruled the mound. Mike Moore (who went 7-innings) and relievers Rick Honeycutt and Dennis Eckersley combined for a 5-1, 4-hitter that was supported by Terry Steinbach's 3-run homer off Rick Reuschel. If it was respect the A's wanted, manager Tony La Russa's team was certainly on the right track.
As the Series shifted across the bay to San Francisco's Candlestick Park, 60,000+ fans were anxiously awaiting a home team comeback. At exactly 5:00 PM on October 17th, the pre-game formalities got underway as both line-ups took the field for their introductions. 4 minutes later the earth shook violently as a 6.9 earthquake rocked the entire bay area. Amazingly, the crowd and players remained relatively calm despite the swaying press boxes and sudden loss of power. Most live radio and TV broadcasts were temporarily knocked off the air and many did not know the extent of the damage outside the walls of Candlestick. Luckily the ballpark had held up during the disaster saving many lives, but the surrounding area was not as fortunate. In the end 67 people died and the miles of crumbled buildings and collapsed roads cost billions to repair. Commissioner Fay Vincent immediately announced the postponement of Game 3 and everyone was ordered to vacate the stadium before darkness set in. 24 hours later it was decided that the contest would be postponed for 10 days moving the 3rd outing to October 27th. While some critics called for cancellation of the remainder of the Series (in respect to the earthquake victims) most felt that it would be better to move on as part of the area's healing process.
After the difficult period passed, Oakland returned just as they had left with a record-tying 5 home runs including 2 by Dave Henderson and 1 each by Jose Canseco, Carney Lansford and Tony Phillips. A well-rested Stewart held the Giants to 3-runs and 5-hits for the 13-7 triumph. The victory made Stewart, (winner of 62 regular-season games in the last 3 years) the first man in history to record 2 victories in the same season in both the League Championship Series and the Fall Classic. San Francisco was never able to recover as the A's cruised to an 8-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings in Game 4. Rickey Henderson had started the rally with an opening homer in the 1st and Moore nailed a 0-2 pitch from Don Robinson for a 2-run double in the Athletics' 4-run outburst. The Giants rallied for 2 runs in the 6th and 4 more in the 7th, but the A's clutch relief pitching from Todd Burns and Eckersley, held on for a 9-6 victory that wrapped up the Series title. In the end, the bittersweet championship was dedicated to the victims of the San Francisco earthquake and many residents though disappointed by the Giants loss, were grateful that baseball was there (as it always was) to help ease their pain.
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