This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: July 9

Some Royals took part in an informal workout at Royals Stadium on the final day of the All-Star break. Kansas City was set to begin the second half of the season with two home games against the Detroit Tigers.

One Royal participating in the workout was George Brett, who took infield practice and batting practice, then pronounced his injured right ankle ready to go. Brett had not played since June 10.

The Royals entered the second half of the season with the largest lead of any division frontrunner, an 8.5-game advantage over Chicago. That was partly due to the weakness of the rest of the AL West; Kansas City was the only team in the division over .500. The AL East race wasn’t much better, as New York had a 7.5-game lead over Detroit and Milwaukee. Both of those teams would have been 2.5 games behind the Royals.

The amazing thing about the Royals’ big lead was that it had been compiled despite lineup mainstays like Brett, Hal McRae, Darrell Porter, and Amos Otis, and pitcher Paul Splittorff, missing large chunks of the season due to injuries (or, in Porter’s case, a stint in drug rehab). Only twice in 80 games had the Royals had Brett, McRae, Otis, and Porter in the lineup at the same time.

Fans looking for good pennant races needed to check out the National League. In the East division, Montreal’s 42-35 mark gave them a half-game lead over Philadelphia and a one-game lead over Pittsburgh. The New York Mets, despite being under .500, were 4.5 games back. In the West division, Houston and Los Angeles were in a virtual tie. The Astros, at 45-33, had a few percentage points on the Dodgers, who were 46-34. Cincinnati was only 4.5 games behind those two.

Today’s birthdays: Willie Wilson (1955), Tommy Hottovy (1981)

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