by Harold Friend
Randy Meyers came from Buffalo, New York. He moved to Flushing in 1969 and immediately became a New York Mets fan. In those days, most New York baseball fans who rooted for the Mets were not fond of New York's other team.
The Mets ran into hard times, and then the Yankees won three consecutive pennants, beating the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs each time, but Randy likes to recall what happened in 1980.
Don't Watch the Game
I remember it as if it just happened. The Royals beat the Yankees in the first two games of the 1980 playoffs at Kansas City, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high.
It was a cloudy Friday evening. I had taken a sabbatical from teaching to go to school, and I didn't have classes on Fridays. The game was televised, but I wanted to ride my bicycle, and thought that it might help the Royals if I didn't watch the game.
My five month old son was at the baby sitter's house, which was only about four miles away. Since I had a little orange radio from Radio Shack on my bicycle, I could listen to the game.
Scoreless Through Four Innings
The Yankees started 22 game winner Tommy John against the Royals' Paul Splittorff, who always gave the Yankees fits. The game was scoreless in the fourth inning when it started raining in the Bronx, but not in Queens. The timing was perfect. I visited my son, and by the time I left, play had resumed.
Frank White Hits a Home Run
Frank White, who has been forgotten today, except by Kansas City fans, touched John for a fifth inning home run, but the Yankees went ahead with a pair of runs in the sixth. Then the Royals struck.
The Royals Strike Back
I was almost home when Willie Wilson hit a fly ball double near the right field foul pole with two outs. There was the temptation to go upstairs to watch the rest of the game, but I decided to listen to one more batter.
Dick Howser took out John and brought in Rich Gossage, who was his best relief pitcher, to face U.L. Washington, who was a switch hitter who was better from the right side. How the way the game is managed has changed.
George Brett Against Rich "Goose" Gossage
Washington hit a chopper over the mound and beat it out, moving Wilson to third. George Brett was the batter. In the post game interviews, Howser explained "We wanted to keep the ball down and away to Brett during the series. With Goose, we wanted it up and away. But the ball was apparently down the middle."
Brett knew what he wanted to do. "I just wanted to pull it and get it up into the air. With the right field fence only 310 feet away, you don't have to hit it very far."
Brett hit a Rich Gossage fast ball into the third deck to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. Boy, was I glad I listened on my bicycle radio instead of watching. Of course, I had to listen to the rest of the game. The Royals won to become American League Champions.
Frustration and Celebration
I watched the celebration, which was really nice. The frustration of losing to the Yankees in 1976, 1977, and 1978 could be felt as George Brett spoke to reporters.
"The people in Kansas City are going to feel that we won the (World) Series. For us to beat them is the ultimate. People have seen a lot of disappointment in one locker room and a lot of joy in the other. It was just reversed this time."
It was really satisfying. I admit that it didn't come close to 1969, when the Mets won the World Series, or even to 1973, when the Mets started to believe and moved from last place at the end of August to come within one game of winning the World Series, but it was still great.
By MURRAY CHASS. (1980, October 11). Royals Win the Pennant With 4-2 Victory Over Yanks :Brett Hits 3-Run Shot Off Gossage 'The Ultimate' Double Starts Big Inning 'Down the Middle' Royals Beat Yanks And Win Pennant. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 15. Retrieved January 28, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 111805721).