This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: September 19

The Royals continued celebrating their AL West title with a 13-3 thrashing of Oakland on a warm and windy Friday night at Royals Stadium.

Oakland gave the Royals a gift-wrapped run in the first inning. Willie Wilson led off with a grounder to short, booted by Mario Guerrero to allow Wilson to reach safely. Wilson then stole second. Hal McRae lined out to left field, but when Rickey Henderson made a wild throw back to the infield, Wilson advanced to third. From there, he scored on George Brett’s sacrifice fly.

Kansas City had a quiet second inning but roughed up Oakland starter Brian Kingman in the third. Wilson singled with one out; Kingman had him picked off first but made a bad throw, and Wilson wound up at second. McRae tripled for one run and Brett’s single produced another. Brett then stole second and scored on a Willie Aikens single. Amos Otis tripled for another run, and John Wathan singled for a 6-0 lead. That ended Kingman’s outing. Reliever Dave Beard stopped the bleeding with two quick outs.

Beard worked a perfect fourth but the Royals added four more runs against him in the fifth. Brett and Aikens began the inning with singles. Otis hit a sacrifice fly to score Brett. Wathan walked, and Clint Hurdle doubled to score both runners. With two outs, Onix Concepcion singled to score Hurdle for a 10-0 lead.

The Royals put an exclamation point on the win with three runs in the sixth, all against reliever Jeff Jones. With two outs, Aikens and Otis singled. Wathan tripled and Hurdle singled, increasing the lead to 13-0.

Royals starter Paul Splittorff took advantage of all the run support to toss a complete game. He held Oakland scoreless on six hits through the first eight innings before weakening a bit in the ninth. The A’s scored three meaningless runs that inning, but Splittorff still picked up his 13th win of the season.

With the win, the Royals improved to 92-56. They held an 18.5-game lead in the AL West.

George Brett watch: 2-4 with a stolen base, two runs scored, and two RBI. I feel like a lot of people think Brett’s chase for .400 peaked when he was at .401 in mid-August, but this game got his average back up to .400 with just 13 games left on the schedule. Season stats: .400/.464/.663

Box score and play-by-play:

1980 news: In the early morning hours, near the tiny town of Damascus, Arkansas, a huge explosion lit up the sky. The cause was a U.S. Air Force Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile, tipped with a nuclear warhead, exploding in its silo. Thankfully, the warhead’s safety features prevented detonation or any radioactive material from leaking. The explosion occurred hours after a maintenance crew dropped a wrench socket, which fell some 80 feet down the silo and pierced the first-stage fuel tank. This released rocket fuel and vapors into the silo. Hours later, two Air Force personnel re-entered the silo to turn on an exhaust fan. Minutes later, most likely due to arcing in the fan, the fuel vapors ignited. The 740-ton silo door was blown roughly 200 feet into the air and landed about 600 feet from the silo entrance. The missile’s second stage and the warhead were ejected from the silo as well, with the second stage exploding outside the silo. Twenty-one people around the site were injured, and Senior Airman David Livingston later died from his injuries. Six servicemen, including Livingston, later received Airmen’s Medals for Heroism for their actions. The Air Force ultimately decided to not restore the missile silo for use, instead burying it under a mound of gravel, soil, and concrete debris.

1980 entertainment news: The movie Ordinary People, starring Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore, opened in theaters. Robert Redford made his directing debut with this film, a story about an upper-middle class family that has one son die in an accident and another son attempt suicide as he deals with the aftermath. The movie was nominated for six Oscars, and won Best Picture, while Redford won Best Director and Timothy Hutton won Best Supporting Actor. Moore’s performance as a distant, even cold-hearted, mother earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award and stunned audiences accustomed to her characters on the Dick Van Dyke Show and then her own TV show.

Today’s birthdays: Lenny DiNardo (1979), Danny Valencia (1984)

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