Party like it's 1985: Revisiting the Kansas City Royals' 1985 World Series victory

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Party like it's 1985: Revisiting the Kansas City Royals' 1985 World Series victory
A general view of Royals Stadium during World Series game one between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals on October 19, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Royals 3-1. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Players of the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals stand and cover their hearts for the singing of the National Anthem during the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Bret Saberhagen #31 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
John Tudor #30 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
George Brett of the Kansas City Royals bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Jim Sundberg of the Kansas City Royals bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Charlie Leibrandt of the Kansas City Royals throws the first pitch of Game Two of the 1985 World Series against Willie McGee of the St. Louis Cardinals on October 20, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
Danny Cox #34 of the St. Louis Cardinals fields his position and throws to first base during Game Two of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Royals Stadium on October 20, 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Royals 4-2. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Buddy Biancalana #1 of the Kansas City Royals tries to score as Darrell Porter #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals tags him during Game 2 of the 1985 World Series at Royals Stadium on October 20, 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
KC Royals runner Buddy Biancalana and Royals on-deck hitter Willie Wilson (6) look to umpire Billy Williams, right, for the decision as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter (15) rolls away in the seventh inning of the World Series, Sunday, Oct. 21, 1985, Kansas City, Mo. Williams ruled Biancalana was out while trying to score from second base. (AP Photo)
Cards' SS Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals leaps for wild throw as Frank White #20 of the Kansas City Royals steals second in Game Two of the 1985 World Series on October 20, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
George Brett #5 of the Kansas City Royals runs the bases against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Dane Iorg #9 of the Kansas City Royals makes a pinch single and is congratulated by his teammates during the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Dennis Leonard of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Second baseman Frank White #20 of the Kansas City Royals get his throw off to first base while leaping over the sliding Darrell Porter #15 of the St. Louis Card during the World Series in October, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won the World Series 4 games to 3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Shortstop Ozzie Smith #1 of the St. Louis Cardinals avoids the slide of Darryl Motley #24 of the Kansas City Royals to get his throw off to first base during the World Series in October, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won the World Series 4 games to 3. Smith played for the Cardinals from 1982-96. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Shortstop Ozzie Smith #1 is called safe stealing second base while second baseman Frank White #20 of the Kansas City Royals puts the tag on him during the World Series at Busch Stadium in October 1985 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Royals won the World Series 4 games to 3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Infielder Tommy Herr #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals avoids the slide of Kansas City Royals George Brett #5 to get his throw off to first base during the World Series at Busch Stadium in October 1985 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Royals won the World Series 4 games to 3. Brett played for the Royals from 1973-93. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Frank White of the Kansas City Royals scores during World Series game three between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals on October 22, 1985 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Cardinals 6-1. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Jim Sundberg #8 of the Kansas City Royals scores as Tom Nieto #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals tries to tag him during Game 5 of the1985 World Series at Busch Stadium on October 24, 1985 in St. Louis , Missouri. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals Lynn Jones goes into third base headfirst with a triple in the seventh inning of a World Series game with the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, Oct. 19, 1985, Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Cliff Schiappa)
Pitcher Danny Jackson #25 of the Kansas City Royals pitches to the St. Louis Cardinals during Game 5 of the1985 World Series at Busch Stadium on October 24, 1985 in St. Louis , Missouri. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith dives on a ball from Kansas City Royals batter Buddy Biancalana in the second inning of Saturday night's World Series game in Kansas City, Oct. 26, 1985. (AP Photo/Rob Kozloff)
St. Louis Cardinals' manager Whitey Herzog gets the heave-ho from the home plate umpire as Kansas City Royals' batter Jim Sundberg #8 looks on during the World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Joaquin Andujar of the St. Louis Cardinals is restrained by coach Nick Leyva after his meltdown and ejection in game 7 against the Kansas City Royals during the 1985 World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Darryl Motley of the Kansas City Royals celebrates as he scores on his home run in the second inning of Game Seven of the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
Bret Saberhagen #31 of the Kansas City Royals is hoisted up by George Brett #5 after the Royals cinched the series against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Bret Saberhagen, World Series MVP of the Kansas City Royals, is lifted up by teammate George Brett after World Series game seven between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals on October 27, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Cardinals 11-0. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals celebrate after winning Game Seven during the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Royals Stadium on October 27, 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Cardinals 11-0. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals celebrate winning the championship after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Seven of the 1985 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 27, 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 11-0. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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By DJ SIXSMITH
College Contributor Network

Three weeks ago, the Kansas City Royals hadn't won a playoff game in 29 years. Today, Ned Yost's squad is four wins away from Kansas City's first World Series title since 1985 and second in franchise history. The last time the Royals were atop the baseball world, "Back to the Future" was the No. 1 movie in America, Ronald Reagan was President and Pete Rose surpassed Ty Cobb for most hits in the history of baseball. In honor of Kansas City's return to the Fall Classic, let's take a look back at how the Royals won their only championship over the St. Louis Cardinals.

While the Royals have only ever made it to the World Series one other time (1980), there's no question Kansas City was the most dominant American League team in the late 1970's and early 1980's. From 1976-1985, the Royals won six division titles and two pennants. This type of success was incredible considering the franchise only came into existence in 1969.

Sixteen years after its first game, Kansas City played for the World Series crown against its neighbors from St. Louis. Separated by 250 miles, this matchup came to be affectionately known as the I-70 series. But this wasn't the first time two teams from the "Show Me" State battled for baseball immortality. Back in 1944, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Browns, who would end up becoming the Baltimore Orioles. Having just won a title in 1982, the Cardinals were the favorites in 1985 after notching a league-high 101 wins under Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog and they quickly proved which team had experience on baseball's biggest stage.

The early part of this series belonged to St. Louis, as the Cardinals came to Kansas City and won the first two games. Game 2 was an especially painful loss for the Royals, considering they were one out away from tying the series. Up 2-0 in the 9th inning, Royals starter Charlie Leibrandt surrendered a bases-clearing double to Terry Pendleton to give the Cardinals the lead for good.

Kansas City manager Dick Houser elected to keep his All Star closer Dan Quisenberry in the bullpen and the Cardinals would go on to score four runs in the 9th inning. Fortunately for the Royals, this would be the last time St. Louis would score multiple runs in an inning during the series.

With the series moving to St. Louis, the only thing going for Kansas City was that Cy Young award-winner Bret Saberhagen was starting Game 3. Saberhagen was lights out, giving up just one run in a complete game, 6-1 victory. Saberhagen out-dueled 20-game-winner Joaquin Andújar and second baseman Frank White homered to get the Royals back in the series. However, the excitement would be short lived.

The Cardinals shut out the Royals 3-0 the following evening to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. John Tudor was masterful for the Cards, striking out eight in a complete game shutout. Left fielder Tito Landrum provided the offensive spark with a solo homer in the 2nd inning off future San Diego Padres manager Bud Black.

Landrum was only in the lineup because NL Rookie of the Year Vince Coleman (who stole 110 bases that season, good for third all-time in a single year) was injured. Landrum proved to be a viable second option as he hit .360 for the series, making him an early favorite for MVP and a major reason why the Royals were on the brink of elimination. The Cardinals had an opportunity to win their second title in four years, in front of their home fans.

However, the Royals were a perfect 3-0 in elimination games and the streak would continue. Kansas City stayed alive with a 6-1 win in St. Louis. Willie Wilson delivered the biggest hit of the game with a two-run triple in the 2nd inning, while the Cardinals mustered just one run over only five hits. This all set the stage for what would be one of the most memorable games in World Series history.

Down 3-2, the Royals returned to Kauffman Stadium still fighting for their World Series lives. This game featured a good old-fashioned pitchers' duel between Leibrandt and Cardinals righty Danny Cox. The two teams traded zeroes for the first seven innings, but this ball game wouldn't be remembered for the great pitching.

Oct. 26, 1985 will forever be a night clouded in controversy. It all began in the 4th inning when Frank White attempted to steal second base for Kansas City. White was called out, but television replay clearly indicated he was safe. Two pitches later, right fielder Pat Sheridan laced a single to the right side -- the hit would've scored the speedster White easily.

The game remained scoreless until the 8th inning when St. Louis finally got on the scoreboard. Pinch hitter Brian Harper came through with an RBI single and the Cards took a 1-0 lead. The Royals went quietly in the bottom of the frame, setting the stage for the Cardinals' bullpen to close things out. Herzog gave the ball to rookie reliever Todd Worrell and that is when drama ensued.

Jorge Orta was the first man to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning. Orta was hitless in the World Series up to this point. Kansas City's utility man dribbled the ball to the right side between the pitchers mound and first base. Cards first baseman Jack Clark flipped the ball to Worrell at first base, but umpire Don Denkinger ruled Orta safe. The call is still discussed to this day as video replay proved that Orta was out by a step. Herzog and the Cardinals pleaded with Denkinger to reverse the call, but he stood behind his initial ruling.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals on the very next pitch. Steve Balboni popped up the first pitch he saw into foul territory near the Royals' dugout. Clark, who had played the majority of the season in right field, lost track of the ball and watched it bounce in front of him. The at bat continued and Balboni singled to the left side to put the winning run on first base.

After a failed sacrifice bunt, a passed ball and an intentional walk, the Royals had the bases loaded with one out for pinch hitter Dane Iorg. Iorg, a former Cardinal, won the 1982 World Series in St. Louis and hit .529 in that series.

The lefty was hitting just .223 in the Fall Classic and was only pinch hitting because a pitcher, Quisenberry, was the scheduled batter (the 1985 World Series was the last World Series to not feature a designated hitter at an American League park). Iorg burned his former team with a game-winning two-RBI bloop single to right field. The Cardinals walked off the field knowing they had blown their chance of winning the title.

The Royals came back the next night and blew out the Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7. One night after his baby boy was born, Saberhagen tossed a complete game five-hitter. Up 5-0 after four innings, Kansas City blew the game open with six runs in the 5th inning. Herzog and Andújar both wouldn't stay around to see how this one ended, as the two were ejected for berating Denkinger, who was behind the plate for this game.

The Royals became the first team to ever rally from a three games to one deficit twice in the same postseason. In fact, KC became the first team to ever win the World Series after losing the first two games at home.

The Cardinals ended up hitting just .185 as a team in the 1985 Fall Classic, the second lowest total in World Series history. Meanwhile, Kansas City won in spite of the fact that All Star George Brett had just one RBI in seven games.

This year's Royals' playoff run is a story 29 years in the making. While the memories of 1985 still shine bright, these next two weeks represent an opportunity for these Royals to make memories of their own. Royals fans may be partying like its 1985, but in a few weeks they could finally put the past to bed and celebrate like it's 2014.


DJ Sixsmith is a senior at Fordham University. He broadcasts Fordham football and basketball games on the school's radio station, WFUV, and hosts his own podcast called Game Time. Follow him on Twitter: @DJ_Sixsmith
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