One thing I did not know before I started researching this is that Memorial Day was not always a Monday holiday. In fact, until 1971 it was celebrated on May 30 every year. I always figured the Monday celebration had been in effect for much longer. Anyway, in 1969, May 30 was a Friday, so it worked out as a long weekend. But the Royals got the weekend off to a bad start as they were swept in a doubleheader by the New York Yankees, who won the first game 6-2 and the second game 5-4 in 15 innings at Municipal Stadium.
The Yankees wasted no time in resuming their torture of Kansas City fans, who had watched the A’s act as an unofficial farm team for New York for years. The visitors scored two runs in the first on singles by Bobby Cox and Bobby Murcer ahead of Roy White’s triple. Then they tacked on four more runs in the second, with Murcer’s two-run home run capping the scoring. That also finished Royals starter Steve Jones.
Kansas City’s pitching was rescued by reliever Tom Burgmeier, who pitched the remaining 7 2/3 innings, holding the Yankees scoreless on three hits and two walks while striking out six.
However, Yankee starter Fritz Peterson was too much for the Royals’ offense. Peterson did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. The Royals got a single in that inning and one in the sixth, but both runners were erased on double plays. Kansas City finally got on the board in the seventh, when Joe Foy belted a solo home run. However, Peterson retired the next five hitters in order.
KC’s final run came in the ninth and was unearned. Pat Kelly started the inning by reaching on an error. With two outs, Jerry Adair doubled to score Kelly. But another groundout ended the game.
The second game was filled with oddities. A rain delay of one hour and 18 minutes halted the proceedings in the third inning. Also in the third inning, the Royals took a 2-0 lead without a hit. Kelly and Mike Fiore each walked with one out, then pulled off a double steal. Foy hit a foul popup down the right-field line, and Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone raced back and made the catch. However, when Kelly tagged at third and tried to score, Pepitone made a wild throw that landed in the third-base dugout, allowing both runners to score.
Pepitone tried to make up for it with a solo home run in the fifth, cutting the Kansas City lead in half. Royals starter Wally Bunker kept the Yankees in check after that, and entered the ninth holding a 2-1 lead and having allowed just four hits. Bunker got one out, allowed a single to Jerry Kenney, got the second out, and then gave up a double to White that tied the game. Bill Butler entered the game in relief and retired Pepitone to keep the game tied.
The Royals left the bases loaded in the 10th and two men on in the 11th. New York, now facing Jim Rooker, came up with a run in the 14th, but the Royals tied it in the bottom of the inning. However, they could have won the game in that frame, too.
Foy walked with one out in the 14th, then stole second. That was one of seven steals for Kansas City in the game, including four by Kelly. Ed Kirkpatrick singled to tie the game, and Lou Piniella singled to move Kirkpatrick to third. With light-hitting Juan Rios at the plate, the Royals tried a suicide squeeze. But Rios missed the sign and Kirkpatrick was easily tagged out at home.
Then, Kelly, who had made a great catch to keep the score tied in the 11th, started the 15th by dropping a fly ball. Singles by Kenney and White put the Yankees ahead 5-3.
The Royals had one more chance to tie or win. Ellie Rodriguez led off the 15th with a single. One out later, Jackie Hernandez singled. Kelly grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Rodriguez out at home. Fiore doubled to drive in Hernandez, with Kelly stopping at third. After an intentional walk, Jerry Adair grounded out to end the game and a baseball day that had lasted more than eight hours.
The two losses dropped the Royals to 21-25 on the season. They were in fifth place in the AL West, 4.5 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play (game one): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196905301.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (game two): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196905302.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Mike LaCoss (1956), Brett Phillips (1994)