Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Game 7, October 1985

The last time "We Did It!"

When it became clear this wasn't just a dream, that the first game of the 2014 World Series really would be played tonight at Kauffman Stadium, I decided it was time to try to find those photos I snapped the night of the last World Series game played here, when the ballpark was called Royals Stadium. Twenty-nine years ago.

It was a lucky draw. A friend's father had somehow ended up with his company's pair of box seats for this final game of 1985. He really wasn't much of a baseball fan; you could tell by the way he gasped at every routine fly ball. The Chiefs were his team, and golf was his passion. But he was a great guy and for some reason no family members were available that evening so he wondered whether I would like to go.

As it happened, it wasn't my first Series game that year. I'd sat in upper-deck nose-bleeders for game 2, when the Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth off Charlie Liebrandt and took a two-games-to-none lead. Driving out of the parking lot I passed two drunk fans in red hooting and laughing from the top of their car, so I pulled up next to them and shouted, "Royals in six!" They laughed harder.

This night my vantage point, several rows up from the infield on the first-base line, was considerably better, and I'd brought my Nikon FM to record the experience. Besides the immediate post-game celebratory clutch of players and fans near the pitcher's mound, above, I also got MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth greeting fans, Darryl Motley's home-run trot after providing all the necessary Royal offense, and the fifth-inning hysterics of Cards pitcher Joaquin Andujar, who had come on in relief with his team down nine runs.

In the middle of the third inning I snapped a series of images of the whole scene before me, from left to right, beginning with the press box area ...

... where Fred and Denny are broadcasting and Mr. and Mrs. K are watching from their suite ...

... moving toward the Stadium Club ...

... and the Red Birds perched in their dugout ...

... up the third-base line, where home-plate umpire Don Denkinger watches ...

... starting pitcher John Tudor's warm-up tosses to catcher Darrell Porter ...

... and the scoreboard shows the results of Motley's two-run, second-inning homer ...

... to right field, where Motley will catch the game's final out.

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The pictures bring back several things – the artificial turf, the old Royals "R" logo, the bare-bones look of the stadium compared to today's amusement-park version. Bret Saberhagen's complete-game shutout. Ultimately I'm reminded of those two beer-soaked, red-clad twits in the parking lot.

What you get from St. Louis fans most often about the 1985 Series, of course, is the bad call Denkinger made at first base in the sixth game. You seldom if ever hear anything from them about  subsequent Cardinal misplays in that ninth inning – the pop foul first baseman Jack Clark let drop or Porter's passed ball – or their complete failure in the seventh game or the fact that the Cardinals hit .185 for the Series.

So I suspect Denkinger is what those two from the parking lot remember, and not my bold prediction to them. OK, so I was off by one game.

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Slide right for the panorama. Go Royals.

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