With the threat of a players’ strike looming, the Royals thrashed the Oakland A’s, 16-3, in a Thursday night game at Royals Stadium, a game many of the players expected to be their last for a while.
The strike deadline was set for 12:01 AM as negotiators continued to strive for a settlement on a new collective bargaining agreement. At a team meeting before the game, player’s representative Jerry Terrell told his teammates the strike was still on and the team would not be traveling to California after the game.
Despite that, the Royals seemed relaxed when gametime arrived, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first. The first three batters all got hits off Oakland starter Matt Keough, with Willie Wilson singling and scoring on Frank White’s double and White scoring on George Brett’s single. With one out, Willie Aikens singled, moving Brett to third. A wild pitch brought in Brett for a third run. John Wathan walked and Pete LaCock singled to load the bases. Clint Hurdle’s sacrifice fly put the Royals on top, 4-0.
The Royals added one more run in the second. Wilson started that inning with another single and took second on an error by right fielder Tony Armas. Wilson scored when Darrell Porter’s grounder to shortstop was kicked by Mario Guerrero.
Keough got through the third with no damage, but the Royals put the game away with eight runs in the fourth. With one out, Brett tripled and scored on Porter’s single. That finished Keough’s appearance, but Kansas City teed off on reliever Dave Hamilton, who faced six batters and didn’t get a single out. Aikens singled and Wathan hit a three-run home run. LaCock walked and scored on Hurdle’s double. U.L. Washington singled, and Wilson drove in Hurdle with a single. Reliever Ernie Camacho entered the game, only to allow an RBI single to White. Although Camacho struck out Brett, Porter followed with an RBI single and the Royals had a 13-0 lead.
The beneficiary of all this offense was starter Renie Martin, who continued to impress after being moved to the rotation earlier in the month. In his fourth start of the year, Martin held Oakland to seven hits and no walks, striking out four as he turned in a complete game. The A’s scored on solo home runs by Armas in the fifth and Wayne Gross in the seventh, and added one more tally in the ninth when Mitchell Page tripled and scored on a groundout.
The Royals’ last three runs came in the seventh with the game well in hand. Camacho was still on the mound and Porter led off with a single. Aikens doubled, and Porter scored on a Wathan groundout. After LaCock walked and Hurdle singled to load the bases, Washington drove in two runs with a single.
After the game, players began planning for their idle time during the strike, only to find out around 4 am that the strike had been averted. Players and owners agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement; however, the main issue of contention–compensating teams who lost players in free agency–was essentially tabled for a year, which would ultimately lead to a strike that disrupted the 1981 season. But for 1980, the issue was settled and games would be played as scheduled.
The win lifted the Royals to 21-16. After taking three of four from Oakland, they were now just a half-game behind Chicago in the AL West standings.
George Brett watch: Like everyone in the lineup, Brett had a good night, going 2-5 with a walk. Season stats: .255/.348/.480
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198005220.shtml
1980 news alert: Half a world away, a Japanese video game company named Namco released a new arcade title, Puck Man, for public testing. The game would slowly become popular in Japan before being released in the United States in December, with a new title: Pac Man, changed to prevent possible vulgar vandalism to machines (changing the “P” to an “F”). The game would take the U.S. by storm, pulling in more than $1 billion in its first year in gameplay alone.