A name from their past came back to haunt the Royals, as their former outfielder Jim Wohlford scored the game-winning run for Milwaukee in the Brewers’ 4-3 win on Friday night at County Stadium.
The Royals dealt Wohlford and Jamie Quirk to Milwaukee after the 1976 season, receiving catcher Darrell Porter and starting pitcher Jim Colborn in return. Although he didn’t start this game due to a slight hamstring pull, Porter was hitting a solid .267/.357/.458 for the season, while Colborn had tossed a no-hitter on May 14 and owned a 6-6 mark with a 3.16 ERA so far in 1977.
With the game tied 3-3, Wohlford led off the seventh with a double off Royals reliever Larry Gura. After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Wohlford stood on third with two outs. Gura intentionally walked Don Money, but Cecil Cooper foiled the plan with an RBI double.
“You bet I was happy,” Wohlford said after the game. “After all, I played there several years and we won the pennant last year. Then the next year I’m gone. People here have been real good to me, but, sure, they needle me. Like when Colborn pitched the no-hitter last month.”
Milwaukee opened the scoring with a Sixto Lezcano home run leading off the second. Kansas City answered with three runs in the third, with plenty of help from the Brewers. With one out, Frank White singled off Milwaukee starter Jim Slaton. Tom Poquette doubled, scoring White, and taking third when second baseman Money made a bad throw to the plate. Hal McRae hit a grounder back to the mound, and the Brewers had Poquette trapped in a rundown until Slaton made a poor throw back to third. As the ball bounced down the left field line, Poquette scored and McRae raced to third. George Brett singled and the Royals had a 3-1 lead.
But KC starter Doug Bird could not hold the lead. In the fourth, Sal Bando doubled with two outs and scored on Von Joshua’s single, pulling Milwaukee to within one run at 3-2. In the sixth, Milwaukee started the inning with singles from Cooper and Lezcano. Bando’s groundout scored Cooper to tie the score. Gura took over on the mound and got the last two outs, but could not keep the game tied.
With the loss, the Royals fell to 26-28 at the one-third mark of the season. They remained in fifth place, six games behind first-place Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: James Earl Ray, convicted in 1969 of murdering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of six inmates who escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee. The inmates used a ladder made from light pipe stolen from a workshop to climb over a fence. However, once they got over the fence, they were faced with rugged, snake-infested mountain terrain. Prison authorities were confident the men would be recaptured before long. Ray had escaped from a Missouri prison and been a fugitive for more than a year before the King assassination, then eluded authorities for almost two months more afterwards. He confessed to the crime, then almost immediately recanted, but had been sentenced to 99 years in prison.
1977 baseball news: Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley continued his long string of changing managers as he fired Jack McKeon and hired Bobby Winkles to run the club. McKeon said the firing “came as a complete surprise to me.” Winkles had been coaching for the San Francisco Giants when Finley offered him the job. He became the 13th manager hired by Finley in 18 years. The A’s, who had sold or traded away practically all of their stars from the teams that won three straight World Series in the early 1970s, were having a better season than most expected; at 26-27 entering play Friday, they were tied with the Royals in the AL West standings.
1977 news: In the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, golfer Al Geiberger made history as the first PGA player to score 59 in one round. Geiberger began his day on the back nine of the Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tennessee and was -6 through the first nine holes he played. He birdied the last four of those, then posted an eagle and two more birdies. He finished the round with birdies on three of the last four holes, as well. He would go on to win the tournament, but only by two strokes. Although 10 other PGA players have equaled the feat since Geiberger did it, it took until 1991 for the next one to do so. The 13 strokes under par is still a PGA record.