Macho Row Phlashback is a series that takes a look back at some of the great moments in Philadelphia Phillies history. This particular series looks back at the 1980 World Series between the Phillies and Kansas City Royals.
How They Got Here
To this day the 1980 National League Championship Series is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, playoff series in baseball history. The Phillies and Houston Astros colliding in a series filled with future Hall of Fame players with all but one game being decided in the winning team's final at-bat. Philadelphia advanced to their first World Series since 1950 after edging the Astros in five games.
The Kansas City Royals made history by becoming the first American League expansion team to reach the World Series. They did so by sweeping one of the most historic franchises in baseball history, the New York Yankees, in three games in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees had defeated the Royals in the ALCS in 1976, 1977 and 1978, so getting past them in 1980 was a tough mountain to climb against the Bronx Bombers.
Veterans Stadium was the scene for the 1980 World Series opener with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies and American League champion Kansas City Royals each looking to capture the first world championship in franchise history. Bob Walk took the mound for the Phillies, hosting their first World Series game since 1950, but the Royals were able to strike early against the starter.
Kansas City center fielder Amos Otis hit a two-run home run off of Walk to deep left field to give the visiting AL champs a quick 2-0 lead, hushing the Veterans Stadium crowd in the process. Royals first baseman Willie Aikens followed the trend in the top of the third inning by smacking a two-run home run to right center to give the Royals a stunning 4-0 lead, but the Phillies would soon gain control in front of their fans. The feisty Larry Bowa would get the spark ignited in the bottom of the third inning.
Bowa grounded a single up the middle to center field for the first hit of the World Series for the Phillies and he quickly stole second base to move in to scoring position with Bob Boone at the plate. three pitches later Boone lined a double to left center field to easily bring Bowa home. With the designated hitter rule in effect for the entire World Series, the Phillies then brought the top of the lineup back to the plate. Lead off hitter Lonnie Smith singled home Boone on the very next pitch to add to the stir despite Smith getting caught running the bases for the second out. Kansas City starter Dennis Leonard started to lose focus as the Phillies fans were getting in to it. Leonard plunked Pete Rose and then walked Mike Schmidt on five pitches. Bake McBride then hit a line drive home run to deep right field to give the Phillies a 5-4 lead and the momentum.
The lead grew to 6-4 when Manny Trillo scored on a Boone double to right field in the fourth inning. Schmidt scored on a sacrifice fly by Garry Maddox in the bottom of the fifth, giving the Phillies a 7-4 lead. That lead was taken in to the eighth inning, when Walk was starting to lose control. Royals third baseman George Brett led off the eighth inning with a double in to left-center field and he moved to third base on a wild pitch by Walk two pitches later. Aikens then hit his second home run of the game on the next pitch, a two run shot to right field to bring the Royals to within one run of the Phillies. At this point Phillies manager Dallas Green relieved Walk and called on closer Tug McGraw to pick up a six-out save. McGraw allowed one single in the inning but had pinch hitter John Wathan ground in to an inning-ending double play.
McGraw returned to the mound in the ninth inning and picked up a 1-2-3 save, closing it out with a strikeout of left fielder Willie Wilson. Little did anyone know, this may have been foreshadowing at its finest.
The Phillies had taken a 1-0 series lead over the Royals and had Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton lined up for game two the next day.