This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: September 30

The Royals snapped an eight-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, as George Brett launched a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 14th for a 7-5 win over Seattle on a Tuesday night at Royals Stadium.

Kansas City’s win didn’t come easy. The Mariners tied the game in the ninth and took the lead in the top of the 14th when Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry, who had rescued Kansas City from a jam in the 11th, finally gave up his first hit, a triple by Dan Meyer. After an intentional walk to Kim Allen, Marc Hill hit a grounder to second. Meyer was caught in a rundown and tagged out, but stayed in the pickle long enough for Allen to reach third. Allen scored when Dave Edler successfully put down a squeeze bunt.

Seattle reliever Mike Parrott returned to the mound for his fourth inning of work in the bottom of the 14th. Willie Wilson led off with a single and stole second. U L Washington singled, moving Wilson to third, before Brett hit his 23rd home run of the season to end the game.

For a game between a team that had clinched a division title and a team that had clinched last place in the division, this game had drama. Besides Brett’s heroics and Seattle taking the lead in the 14th, the contest featured a ninth-inning home run by Bruce Bochte to send the game to extra innings and Seattle starting pitcher Rick Honeycutt getting ejected for doctoring the baseball.

Just days earlier in Seattle, Honeycutt had held the Royals to six hits in a Mariners win. Kansas City players, although they didn’t say so then, had some suspicions about Honeycutt scuffing the baseball. In this game, the Royals got off to a better start, although Wilson being caught stealing in the first inning kept them from scoring in that frame (the caught stealing also ended Wilson’s streak of successful steals at 32, at the time an American League record). With two outs in the third, Wilson tripled. As he led off third, he carefully observed Honeycutt on the mound. When Brett singled to score Wilson, the speedster asked umpire Bill Kunkel to check the ball and the pitcher’s glove. Kunkel found a piece of tape on Honeycutt’s index finger, with a thumbtack poking through the tape. There was also some sandpaper attached to the tape. Kunkel immediately kicked the lefthander out of the game, with Mariners manager Maury Wills following soon after.

Brett’s single had tied the game at 1-1, but Seattle retook the lead in the fourth. Facing Royals starter Dennis Leonard, Bochte drew a leadoff walk. Tom Paciorek singled with one out, and Jerry Narron doubled to score both runners.

Leonard would settle in, though, as he retired 12 of the next 14 batters, with the two who reached base erased on a double play and a pickoff. The Royals rallied to take the lead off relievers Byron McLaughlin and Dave Roberts. In the sixth, Hal McRae led off with a single and scored on an Amos Otis triple. Roberts took over, but Willie Aikens greeted him with a single to tie the score. In the seventh, Washington singled with one out and McRae singled with two outs. Otis came through again with an RBI single to put the Royals in front.

They stayed there until Leonard surrendered a home run to Bochte leading off the ninth. Leonard worked through the 10th but allowed two hits to start the 11th, at which point Quisenberry took over with runners at first and third. A ground ball to Aikens resulted in a rundown, with Rod Craig being caught between third and home. He stayed in the rundown long enough for Bochte to move from first to third, but after an intentional walk, Quisenberry escaped the jam with a double play.

Besides spotting Honeycutt’s cheating, Wilson had a night to remember. His triple tied an American League record for switch-hitters at 15 on the season. He also set an AL record for hits by a switch-hitter and needed just four more hits as a right-handed batter to become the second player ever to record 100 hits from each side of the plate in one season.

The win lifted the Royals to 93-64 on the year, despite ending September with an 8-18 record. They held a 12.5-game lead in the AL West. 

George Brett watch: 3-6 with the home run, a walk, and four RBIs. After going 5-28, Brett’s big night was a relief for everyone in Royal blue. It was the first time since September 19 he had more than one hit in a game. Also, he established a team record with his 115th RBI of the season; he had been tied for the record with 112 when he stepped to the plate in the 14th. Season stats: .387/.452/.657

Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198009300.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Rusty Torres (1948), Jose Lima (1972), Jeremy Giambi (1974), Bryan Bullington (1980)

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