This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: July 31

The Royals split a doubleheader in Chicago, making some friends along the way as they lost the first game, 5-4, in 10 innings but won the second by an 8-4 margin.

Kansas City held a 2-1 lead going into the ninth in the first game. Royals starter Marty Pattin had allowed only two hits and a walk to this point, but one of the hits was a Chet Lemon home run. Despite not starting a game since June 26, Pattin didn’t seem to be tiring as he retired Ralph Garr on a grounder to start the ninth. Alan Bannister hit a fly ball to left, but Joe Zdeb dropped it. The White Sox immediately took advantage, as Bannister reached second on the play and scored on Jorge Orta’s single.

The Royals shook it off and scored two in the top of the 10th. With two outs, White Sox starter Steve Stone, who had scattered seven hits and two walks, issued back-to-back passes to George Brett and Joe Lahoud. Pinch-hitter Cookie Rojas greeted new pitcher Dave Hamilton with a run-scoring single, and Al Cowens did the same to reliever Lerrin LaGrow, giving the Royals a 4-2 lead.

Incredibly, they couldn’t hold that one, either. Larry Gura took over for Pattin, but surrendered a leadoff single to Jim Spencer. Reliever Doug Bird took over, only to give up a game-tying home run to Lemon. Bird then walked Eric Soderholm, and after a sacrifice bunt, Garr singled off new pitcher Steve Mingori for a 5-4 walkoff win.

The Royals, after losing the first three games of the series and falling 6.5 games behind Chicago, desperately needed a win in the second game. Just as they had in the first three games, they got an early lead. But this time, Dennis Leonard was not about to surrender it.

Kansas City was held without a hit by Chicago starter Chris Knapp until the third inning. Frank White reached on an error by third baseman Jack Brohamer to start the inning. White stole second and scored on Brett’s home run.

The Royals doubled the lead–pardon the pun–in the fifth. With one out, Bob Heise singled and Brett doubled. Hal McRae doubled to bring in both runners, pushing the advantage to 4-0.

Leonard held Chicago to two hits through the first five innings. But Orta singled with one out in the sixth, and Oscar Gamble homered with two outs.

But Leonard would only allow one more hit the rest of the way, working around a walk and an error in the eighth to allow the offense time to build on the lead.

McRae answered the Gamble home run with a solo shot in the seventh. At this point, the Royals’ emotional leader decided to make a point to the White Sox. McRae took small steps as he trotted around the bases, tipping his cap to the crowd. As he would later explain, this was an answer to the White Sox players’ actions, and Chicago fans’ new habit of demanding their players take curtain calls after home runs.

Otis added a solo home run in the seventh, and he also waved his cap at the crowd while he circled the bases. Then a Brett double, McRae single, and Lahoud single in the ninth gave the Royals an 8-2 lead. Although Chicago got a two-run home run from Brian Downing in the ninth, Leonard finished out the game and allowed the Royals to get at least one win out of the four-game series.

After the second game, McRae explained his actions.

“The players should be smart enough not to try to show us up. They beat the hell out of us and then keep showing us up. They stand there when they hit the ball and watch it go out of the park before they start around the bases. Then they do it slowly while the scoreboard is blasting off and after they get in the dugout they come out for standing ovations.

“What I did was retaliation. I wanted to show them how they look and maybe they’ll have consideration for the other teams. It’s great to have the big crowds. The fans are making clowns out of the ballplayers. This isn’t a circus or a nightclub where you come out for standing ovations. It’s baseball.”

Otis added, “I figured the fans wanted a treat, so I gave them one. If they’re going to play Hollywood, I’ll play Hollywood, too.”

The White Sox, who were surprising just about everyone with their spot in first place in the AL West, drew 131,276 fans for the three days, including a season-high 50,412 for the Sunday doubleheader. Their fans had definitely played a role in the series win, according to Royals manager Whitey Herzog.

“Well, let’s put it this way,” he said. “The other night we had 25,000 people in the stands and it was like a morgue. This place is like a madhouse.”

White Sox owner Bill Veeck responded to McRae and Otis by saying, “That’s the cry of a losing team.”

Chicago manager Bob Lemon, who had managed the Royals in the early 1970s, added, “I didn’t know Otis was talking to sportswriters again. I remember when he used to hang a sign at his locker that said ‘No interviews.’ I don’t care what the Royals do. They can do what they want. But they better let us do our thing. We’ve got the greatest fans in the world.”

The doubleheader split left Kansas City with a 56-43 record. They were 5.5 games behind Chicago in the AL West.

Box score and play-by-play (first game):

Box score and play-by-play (second game):

1977 news: Just a couple of days after the anniversary of his first attack, New York’s “Son of Sam” killer struck again. This time, avoiding a heavy police presence in his previous preferred areas in the Bronx and Queens, the killer shot two people in Brooklyn, with one later dying from her injuries. Stacy Moskowitz, only 20, became the sixth person to die at the hands of the mysterious killer. He had also wounded seven others.

Today’s birthday: Scott Bankhead (1963)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s