This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: July 4

No fireworks in this one, as the Royals defeated the Texas Rangers in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel on Monday night at Arlington Stadium.

Kansas City starter Jim Colborn continued his mastery of the Rangers, holding them to seven hits in 8 ⅓ innings. Colborn no-hit Texas on May 14 and ran his streak of scoreless innings against them to 17 ⅓. Colborn also picked up his 10th career win against the Rangers.

Texas had their best scoring chance in the second. With one out, Toby Harrah drew a walk and Juan Beniquez doubled. With runners at second and third, Colborn struck out Bump Wills and got Jim Sundberg to ground out to keep the game scoreless.

The Royals’ offense was having its own problems with Texas starter Gaylord Perry. Kansas City collected only eight hits and a walk as Perry pitched a complete game, striking out four. Seven of the Royals’ hits were singles and they also hit into two double plays and had a runner thrown out trying to steal. 

But in the fifth inning, the Royals did just enough to get on the scoreboard. With two outs, Frank White doubled. Tom Poquette followed with a single to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead.

Colborn worked around single baserunners in the next three innings, then pitched a perfect eighth. But the Rangers made things interesting in the ninth. With one out, Beniquez and Wills picked up back-to-back singles, putting the tying run on third. Reliever Mark Littell got pinch-hitter Ken Henderson on a fly ball to shallow left field, then retired pinch-hitter Bill Fahey on a grounder to end the game.

With the win, the Royals improved to 41-36. They stayed in third place in the AL West, four games behind first-place Chicago.

Box score and play-by-play:

1977 baseball news: The Royals’ win seemed to be the final straw for Rangers owner Brad Corbett, who entered the press box after the game and told the assembled media he was ready to sell the team. Corbett had purchased the Rangers for $9.5 million in 1974, and like so many owners of the time, he liked to be heavily involved in baseball decisions. Estimates were that the Rangers needed to draw 1.4 million fans in 1977 to break even after adding to their payroll in the offseason, but they were only on pace to draw 1.1 million. Corbett cited an editorial in the Fort Worth newspaper that claimed his tumultuous ownership, with the team’s “four managers in one week” circus the most recent example, had made the city a “laughingstock.” He also ripped his players, saying “A few of them just don’t give a damn. They don’t care about anything except drawing a paycheck. Some of them are dogs, on and off the field.”

Today’s birthday: Fred Rico (1944)

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