This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: August 29

An angry Royals team dropped a 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Monday afternoon in New York in all-too-familiar fashion.

The game was a makeup of a controversial rainout from July 25. The Yankees, as the home team, had the ability to call off the game before the first pitch and did so several hours before the game, based on the forecast. When it didn’t rain that night, the Royals were annoyed. When the makeup game was scheduled for this date, Kansas City’s lone day off between August 9 and September 1, the Royals were angry. When the Yankees scheduled the makeup game as night game, meaning the Royals would have a late flight back to Kansas City before beginning an important series against Texas, they were furious enough to file a complaint with the league office. American League president Lee MacPhail ruled the game would still be played, but as a day game.

That didn’t placate Royals manager Whitey Herzog, who filled out a lineup card with pitchers Dennis Leonard, Jim Colborn, and Andy Hassler all in the starting lineup; Leonard at DH, Colborn in right field, and Hassler at first base. Yankee Stadium’s legendary public address announcer, Bob Sheppard, refused to read the lineup, calling it “a fit of pique.” It was just as well, as none of the three actually batted. Hal McRae hit for Leonard in the first inning, hitting a double off Yankees starter Catfish Hunter. Al Cowens hit for Colborn, who at least amused the crowd and his teammates by acting offended when Cowens emerged from the dugout.

“I hit Hunter pretty well,” Colborn joked afterward. “My offense would have made up for anything I’d have given away in right field.”

Cowens flied out to end the inning, and the game returned to some sense of normalcy. John Mayberry took Hassler’s place at first for the bottom of the inning, and the Yankees scored one run off the Royals pitcher on the lineup card who did actually play, Paul Splittorff. With one out, Graig Nettles doubled and Thurman Munson walked. Reggie Jackson grounded into a forceout at second, but Lou Piniella doubled to score Nettles. Jackson was thrown out at home on the play to end the inning.

The Royals tied the score when George Brett led off the fourth with a home run, his 17th of the season. New York took the lead back as Cliff Johnson started the fifth with a home run, but Kansas City jumped in front when Brett singled with one out in the sixth and Cowens belted his 19th home run of the year.

New York threatened to score in the seventh. Johnson began the inning with a walk. With one out, Willie Randolph doubled, with Johnson stopping at third. Steve Mingori took over for Splittorff and retired Bucky Dent and Mickey Rivers to end the inning.

But in the eighth, the Yankees did take the lead. Munson singled with one out, and Piniella singled with two outs. Doug Bird replaced Mingori, and the Yankees called on Chris Chambliss to pinch-hit. Chambliss hit a 1-2 pitch just over the fence in right-center, in almost the same spot as his walkoff home run that ended the ALCS the previous season. That gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead, and the Royals went quietly in the top of the ninth.

Herzog was still fuming after the game.

“The league got what it wanted, the Yankees got what they wanted, everybody’s happy except the Kansas City Royals,” he said. “I like New York, but I don’t like it today. The Texas Rangers are playing golf in Kansas City today. This league has rules for certain teams and rules for the Yankees.”

Royals general manager Joe Burke pointed out that the controversy over the makeup game had led to a rule change, although of course it was too late to help Kansas City.

“The umpires now are in control of the last series between two teams,” he said. “It passed unanimously (at the recent owners’ meetings), so even the Yankees voted for it. Which indicated it was a bad rule. Even the Yankees knew it was a bad rule.”

The loss dropped the Royals to 75-53. They remained in first place in the AL West. Minnesota won, Chicago lost, and Texas (as Herzog noted) was idle, so the Twins jumped into second place, just 2.5 games behind the Royals. Chicago stayed three games back while Texas moved to 3.5 games out.

Box score and play-by-play:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA197708290.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Ryan Shealy (1979), Eduardo Villacis (1979)

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