This Date In Royals History–1969 Edition: April 9

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Kansas City spent the 1968 summer without a baseball team to call its own. Two games into the 1969 season, the new Royals seemed determined to play an extra season’s worth of innings to make up for it.

A day after the Royals and Minnesota Twins started the season with a 12-inning match, the two teams played a 17-inning marathon at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. Although it took five more innings than the day before, the result was the same: a 4-3 walkoff win for the Royals, with outfielder Lou Piniella playing the hero.

Minnesota drew first blood, scoring two runs off Royals starter Roger Nelson in the third inning, although one was unearned due to shortstop Jackie Hernandez’s error.

Kansas City drew even in the fourth. Three straight singles by Ed Kirkpatrick, Joe Foy, and Chuck Harrison produced one run, and after Foy stole third, Jim Campanis hit a sacrifice fly.

The tie was short-lived. Minnesota’s Rod Carew led off the fifth with a double, took third on a fly ball, and then stole home.

Harrison’s single in the fourth was Kansas City’s last hit until Jerry Adair singled off Twins starter Jim Kaat with one out in the eighth. Adair took second on an error, and Pat Kelly pinch-ran for him. Kelly reached third on a groundout and scored on a Foy single. Although Foy was thrown out trying for a double, the score was tied.

It stayed tied deep into the night. Royals reliever Bill Butler retired 13 straight batters, while Kansas City hitters grounded into double plays in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. They actually loaded the bases after that last one, but couldn’t score with two outs.

At last, Kansas City broke through in the 17th. With one out, the light-hitting Hernandez drew a walk. After a groundout, Piniella singled to left, bringing Hernandez home with the winner and ending the four-hour, 32-minute affair.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Hal Morris (1965), Graeme Lloyd (1967)

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